Monday, January 3, 2011

Theodore, Queensland Christmas Floods - A Purely Personal Perspective


Settle in...maybe grab a coffee...this might take a minute...
See that water up there? Almost looks pretty doesn't it? Trouble is, we normally can't see water there - at all. Usually, this is a very deep, mostly dry waterway, which runs a few meters of water after heavy rain. Right now, it's over 13 metres deep. Usually, we see trees, rocks, and the other side (which is where the trees are up to their necks in water). Usually, this waterway is around 50 metres across. Right now, it's possibly 7km to the nearest terra firma. This floodwater has just totally devastated our beautiful little town of Theodore. The entire population was evacuated by helicopter last week - even the dogs and cats. The whole town went under water. We're a bit stunned. No flood has ever reached anything like these heights...in our brighter moments, we feel awed to be witnessing history. Then, there are our other moments...
like the moment we realised my sister and her family were being airlifted here - to escape the rising floodwater from their home an hour downstream, having watched their entire cotton farm slowly drown (this happened before it became obvious that our whole town was in the same predicament)...and the moment we became aware of just how much water was coming downstream at us, and we had 300 head of cattle on an island that would very likely be washed away...and the moment we heard that someone downstream had 1,100 head of cattle washed away (that made our 300 head seem insignificant!)...and more moments than I can recount that continue to drive home the enormity of all this.

Yet, we consider ourselves very, very lucky. While we have concerns for some cattle, and miles of fencing and roads washed away; our home is out of the floodwater, our power supply (to our eternal thankfulness) has been constant. While we lost our telephone service to our home, we still have mobile signal...



Sort of! Here's "Pa" accessing signal outside our car shed...Our options to pick up phone service are the attic window, and out here...guess which technique I employ? While it becomes a little frustrating, it helps keeps us in touch with the outside world, with all the beautiful souls checking on us (Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to each and every one...)



And, we have a plentiful supply of insect repellent! The sandflies are beyond description...



And...while all this horror unfolds around us, my baby is safe and sound and home with us. He surprised us by arriving home early - in time for Christmas...in fact in time to get here! A day later and he'd have been stuck hours from here, for heaven knows how long.

We are, indeed very, very fortunate. Sadly, most of our community hasn't been so lucky. Over the next few days I hope to share some more images and stories with you.

A trust fund has been set up to collect donations towards the rebuilding of Theodore. Details can be viewed at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Theodore-Recovery-Appeal/172433992794714#!/pages/Theodore-Recovery-Appeal/172433992794714

13 comments:

MEG MITCHELL said...

There have been so many strange weather patterns all over the world. Yours sounds devastating. So glad your home and family are safe. What a frightening story.

Gail said...

Hi Tracey, Good to hear from you even if it is on the blog. Have been wondering and praying that you are all ok. The water has just been amazing how it keeps coming. We have had a few friends have water through their homes here in Biloela area but nothing like poor Theodore and other towns.
Just hoping my brother and his family stay safe in Rocky.. They will have water in their yard and hopefully that is all. I wanted to call but if the phone wasn't working, didn't have your mobile. Keep the chin up and know that you are not forgotten even if we can't help physically, you are in our prayers Love Gail

Robin Mac said...

Hi Tracey, thank goodness you are all safe, I hope you managed to move your cattle. The whole situation is so sad, we are thinking of you all down there. I am glad your son managed to get home early - what a surprise he will have had! Cheers, Robin

Tracey said...

Thanks Meg, Gail and Robin...the wonderful thing about a time like this is the support, care and concern you receive from people.

Meg, I must visit your blog and catch up since you got home from Paris - I loved reading about your time there...it was like the holiday I wasn't able to take myself! Thanks for sharing!

Gail...I hope your brothers house is Ok - I'll keep my fingers crossed...oh hang on - that might be why I'm finding it difficult to function - too many things crossed for people! I might have to untangle and start to say my prayers or something...

And Robin - no, our cattle are still stuck - but that's better than them being wshed away! They should be fine, we've begun fodder drops, which will continue until a bit of a body of feed comes back. An extra cost - but you do what you have to do. I think my baby is pleased to have made it home in time to see this - the kids have all said that it is a little awesome to see history unfolding (albeit quite distressing and sad...)

Once again, my thanks to you all....

Wendy Coppock said...

I found your blog while searching and looking at pictures of your flooded area. Nice to see your baby safe at home. On a different note, I really enjoyed looking at your work. I am very impressed. Although, it is sad to no longer have him sitting at our kirtchen table, it was comforting to see him sitting at home at your kitchen table. Take care and our thoughts are with your family as you navigate through this disaster.

Wendy

Tracey said...

Wendy! I got such a kick out of seeing your comment here...thanks for your kind thoughts. It really is wonderful to have our 'baby' home with us, thanks for taking such good care of him! Glad you enjoyed the more creative side of things here too! I'm itching to get back to something soon - the past couple of weeks haven't exactly been conducive to the flow of creative juices!

Lynn A. Fraley said...

So glad to read that your home is on higher ground. Wishing you and yours the best as the waters recede, as they surely will.

Hannah said...

Tracey--Reading your post gave moved me deeply. I am so moved by your accounting of events and the human effort required to move people to safety. I am so glad that your son made it home safely and that your home is on higher ground. My sincere best wishes to you and your family and all those around you including your cattle.

Tracey said...

Thank you Lynn and Hannah. From the bottom of my heart.

Indounik said...

Wow, this gives great insight into "the big wet". None of us knew how much more furious Mother Nature would get a week on from when you wrote this. My heart goes out to all Queenslanders but as I've seen played out time and time again on my TV screen, you're a tough lot. Glad everyone there is safe and sound. Wishing you many sunny days ahead.

Tracey said...

Indounik...so true...we thought we had it bad here, but were very quickly brought back to reality as we watched, with horror, what happened in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley. It was devastation beyond our comprehension, and our herats break for those affected.

As you say, Queenslander's are indeed a tough lot...and many of us will have great need to find some remarkable strength...But the wonderful support and encouragement from people like yourself will help tremendously!

Indounik said...

Good to hear you're all bouncing back. You might not have had a chance to see the amazing Etsian Australian Flood Appeal Shop that has sprung up on Etsy - http://www.etsy.com/shop/AusDisasterRelief?ref=pr_shop_more

Sellers all around Australia and around the world have donated handmade, vintage and supply items and all proceeds, after Etsy and PayPal fees, are to be donated to the Queensland Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal. To date, there have been 344 sales and US$3858.89 raised.

Remember Hurricane Katrina? Last night, someone from New Orleans bought an item that I donated to the shop. How cool is that?

Tracey said...

Indounik...I continue to be humbled by people's generosity and thoughtfulness... Thanks for letting me know about this.

Wow...someone from New Orleans...I understand that connection to others who have faced a disaster -it's a bond requiring no other introduction.