As you are all well aware, there has been a bit of a ‘situation’ here in the North Burnett region of Queensland.
And while some of the observations and stories are mine to tell, many aren’t. Hundreds and thousands of stories from the floods of ex-tropical Cyclone Ozwald are far more frightening and far more indicative of the incredible spirit of the Aussie Bush (for international guests, this is our pet term for country and country people) than mine.
Some stories involve enormous frustration at being trapped by floodwaters 100s of kilometres away as your paddocks are slowly engulfed by a creek which knows no normal boundary or bank, and as a year’s worth of hard work piled carefully into a hay shed are ruined by foul water and then threaten to explode into fire. Some stories involve normally waterproof levies and dams suddenly giving way, allowing churning frothing water and debris across open paddocks and trapping people in their homes without warning. Some stories involve waking to miles of mangled pipework and a wasteland where a lush crop had flourished just hours before. Others involve people caring for chronically ill people in their homes, suddenly losing all essential services and access to help. Of a landscape and it’s animals and people being devastated.
None of these stories are really mine to tell, yet they all share one thing in common. They all involve neighbours and community rallying to help – either springing to action to shift entire families from a neighbouring house after warning of impending flooding, or of moving a neighbour’s cattle to higher, safer ground, of grabbing their tractors and moving wet hay from sheds before smouldering becomes a fire which would take out the shed too, or of just turning up with hat and gloves, ready to clear debris, hose out muddy homes and clear twisted irrigation equipment from devastated paddocks.
It’s really something to see. And while the work to repair the damage wrought by the floods will go on for years (in many cases) the boost that such neighbourliness gives to those in need, and to the community as a whole, is incredible. There are some, it is true, who might never recover. Yet you are just as likely to find THESE people out there, lending a hand to others.
I have already referred to a particular event in our local area that grabbed my attention early on in this disaster, partly because I know the people involved (although not VERY well, but enough to have their story hit home particularly hard). To see them tell their story on ABC Qld’s Stateline program last night was incredible.
Lucy is from a grazing family and lives reasonably close to one of our local towns. She is a lovely young woman and must surely own one of the levellest heads of all time. Rodney is her neighbour, an Aussie ‘bloke’ whose courage and caring will floor you. He is also one of the best storytellers I have ever heard.
I don’t think I can insert the clip itself here, so instead I have the link for the TV interview: ABC Stateline Interview with Lucy and Rodney (from which these images are taken.)
And here is the local ABC radio interview (or part of it – the whole thing is much longer and shares more flood stories – I haven’t given up trying to track it down!)
Please, get a cuppa and maybe a tissue, and watch and listen to these amazing snippets of history.
Kudos to ABC journos Ross Peddlesden and Kathy McLeish for their great interviews.
And yes Lucy, for your courage and calm and unshakable belief that your neighbour WOULD manage the seemingly unmanageable, you ARE a hero. Quite inspiring.