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In the eye of the flood

By Susan Prior - posted Tuesday, 18 January 2011


There is no need to recount the events of the last week in Queensland. It began for Brisbane on a wet, rainy Monday as a wall of water tore through Toowoomba to the west of the capital.

There were forecasts that Brisbane may experience flooding so immediately we went into flood preparation mode. According to the predictions based on earlier floods we were going to have an inundated ground floor, so all our worldies were brought upstairs; we filled buckets and tubs with clean drinking water; bought matches, candles, and batteries; replaced our gas cylinder … and waited.

It rained.

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On Tuesday morning something interesting started to happen. People started nattering to each other and telling their stories. Down came the usual reservations and people conversed freely. I wrote the following on my Facebook page:

Camaraderie among the tinned baked beans and bottled water

I was only pontificating just yesterday to my two daughters, about a calamity bringing communities closer together. It was interesting in the supermarket this morning. I wish I had had a recording device to go around and interview everyone, because they were all chatting to their neighbours in the long queues. Swapping stories, news, gossip. Listening to all the conversations around me actually made the time in the long queue go very fast. Now why can't we all be so chatty and have so much fun normally? Hmm.

People who had lived close to each other for, quite literally, years suddenly got talking and offering to help each other in preparation for the inundation ahead. It was all so refreshing.

“Have you heard?” “What are you expecting?” “Are you ready?” “Were you flooded last time?” “Are you insured?”

The power went off in anticipation of the deluge on Wednesday morning … and we waited. And while we waited we talked to our neighbours over the fence.

And it rained.

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The predictions were for early flooding of the lower lying areas in the morning with a rising tide throughout Wednesday with the first peak in the late afternoon. It became apparent that if we didn’t get my oldest daughter to the airport early that day (for a midnight flight to Europe) then she could be stranded. We bundled her on to a train, bid her a hasty farewell and went back to our preparations.

The highest peak would be at 4am on Thursday we were told. Expect the worst. And we did.

And still it rained.

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First published by www.eurekastreet.com.au on January 17, 2011.



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About the Author

Susan Prior is a former editor of On Line Opinion. She now works as a freelance writer and editor and is undertaking post graduate studies at the University of Queensland in Writing, Editing and Publishing. Susan blogs at My cup of tea and Woolpack Tapestry. You can email her here.

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