Thursday, January 6, 2011

Theodore, Queensland Christmas Floods - This Town Will Bounce Back

Maybe we should say - this town will splash back! However you choose to word it, Theodore is a community that won't stay down for long. Amazing things have been accomplished by this community over the years. Theodore has the only cooperatively owned Hotel in the Southern Hemisphere - owned and run by community shareholders, and putting a percentage of it's profits back into the community each year since 1949.

Our retirement village was built from funds raised by locals, augmented by State Government Funding. It has been managed by a local committee since it's establishment. A year or two ago, the State Government wanted to assume control over the village, presumably because of the funds they had contributed. The Theodore community set to and raised more money, paid the Government back it's contribution and retain control over the retirement village and welfare of own older generation.

A few years back, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (who, incidentally, are awesome) announced a requirement for the airstrip to be automatically lit for night landings, or they would be unable to service Theodore out of daylight hours. Guess what? Theodore got mobile, raised the $60,000 or so dollars, and lit the runway.

Are you picking up a theme here?

This is an awesome community.

We are lucky to have arguably the best rural general practice in Australia...this is how it looked last week. I believe there was a metre and a half of water through the surgery. Heartbreaking for our Doctor, Bruce Chater and his family, who have made Theodore their home for the past 30 odd years...Yet, almost every home in town was similarly affected...heartbreaking for everyone.

But...this is the sort of thing that happens in Theodore...our Post Office also sells fruit and vegetables. The owners were evacuated, along with the rest of the town, but contacted a local farmer who was able to access the shop by boat, and asked for him to get the fruit and vegies out, and distribute them to the police who remained to protect the town, and anyone else they could get them to. (The Post Office is a little higher than the other businesses in town, and luckily had no water in it - only under it).

I could tell you many, many stories of the generosity, thoughtfulness and general wonderfulness (I suspect that wonderfulness is not actually a word...but I actually don't care - it should be!) of the members of this community. As I write, there are many individuals working away: in meetings with authorities to sort out how to get our residents safely back in their homes; networking to co-ordinate temporary accommodation for those same residents while they get their homes clean and habitable again; researching all manner of information and possibilities to assist with rebuilding; and twittering, blogging and facebooking like mad to spread the word about the Theodore Recovery Appeal and the website, Theodore Rebuilds, which has information about the task ahead and stories and photos to give the world a first hand account - not only of how Theodore has been devastated, but also just how resilient this community is planning to be. 

I'm not big on asking for help (in fact, if you ask those who know me well, you might find it's a pretty rare event), but, if you have a few dollars to spare, a donation to the Theodore Recovery Appeal would be something I (and the rest of our fabulous little community) would deeply appreciate. The fund will be overseen by a committee nominated by the community and distributed as fairly as possible (and voluntarily - so no administration fees!) quite likely through a voucher system, which can be used for purchases in Theodore's businesses...a twofold benefit - once for the recipient of the voucher, and again for the local business. 

Yep, Theodore will be back. You can bet on it!

*Special thanks to my friend Diana for allowing me to share her photos with you here in this post...she and her husband (the local farmer I mentioned earlier) lost their entire cotton crop in these floods - after being hit very, very hard by flooding earlier in the year - two crops lost in succession...a blow that most farmers around here have sustained. Yet, they are busy caring for other families and doing all they can to get things back to normal as quickly as possible...This place is brimming with wonderful people!


Dan Gheorghe said...

hello from romania!

Indounik said...

More power to you and the people of Theodore to bounce back. You've painted a picture of such a great community so I know everyone will be looking out for each other. Thanks for sharing this wonderfulness!

Julia said...

My eyes are brimming with tears as I read your lovely words, but not with sadness, as I am filled with the emotion of GLADNESs that humans can be so wonderful, courageous and compassionate to others, and that your town has so much combined strength of community to such a degree!!!...makes me want to tell others to follow your example!...
I am adding your post to my list of poeple getting it together for each other..xx..julia

Tracey said...

Thanks for your thoughts Dan, Indounik and Julia! I usually try to be a little quicker to respond to comments here, and just now I'm having a little more trouble than usual getting the time to attend to them!

Julia, you sum it up our little community well! It is quite inspiring to watch as this town emerges from the muddy brown devastation and the life begins to steadily throb, stronger and stronger by the day...Thanks for including this post in your list - I enjoyed reading it, and hope to have a longer investigate very soon!