We’ve had an unseasonably wet summer. The only sunny day Brisbane had in weeks was the day the flood peaked.
I can’t remember where we heard it first, if it was the radio, via email, or the social network but everyone was spooked. The first thing we did was head straight to the supermarket to find the shelves were already bare of essentials: bread and bottled water were gone. We then headed out to one of the few depots that were distributing sandbags, but when we arrived the line of cars stretched around the block.
On the way home we checked out New Farm Park which is a few blocks away from our apartment. Rain was bucketing down. The park is right next to the Brisbane River, which was already breaking its banks and covering the walkway. Brisbane was lucky enough to get an advanced warning, all of this was happening on a Tuesday and the flood wasn’t set to peak until early Thursday morning.
We grabbed some supplies and went to check on the press. It was dark out when we realised water had begun seeping through the walls. Simon started mopping up while Jenna put the finishing touches on a very important job.
Wednesday morning we woke early to a strange sight: sunshine. My phone buzzed, our neighbour had given us a tip that a new sandbag depot had opened up. When we arrived we were greeted by a bucket line of high-vis vested volunteers streaming sandbags into the back of our car. We headed back out to our press and lined the walls. We mopped up where we could then returned to secure our apartment. Our suburb was listed as one of the flood effected areas and we had to brace ourselves for the first peak at high tide at 3pm. We were going to lose power soon so we headed out to help our neighbours, lending a hand sandbagging a few commercial properties and the hairdresser in our building who was on holidays.
We managed to squeeze in a bit of relaxing after our heavy sandbagging work. Heading down to the local lawn bowls club which sat right on the river, we saw familiar streets in not so familiar ways. The local supermarket’s underground car park was full of brown, soupy water and all sorts of people had come out to see their neighbourhood soaked.
The bowls club was also out of power, but fortunately there was still plenty of ice and beer. We sat by the river and watched the waters rise. Whole pontoons with boats atop, along with stray kayaks, furniture, hay bales, yachts and other debris float briskly by.
That evening we shared a candle lit barbecue dinner on the street corner with our friends from our apartment block. Other neighbours either drawn by the chatter or the smell joined us under the stars that evening on what will surely be a day that we will remember for a long time to come.
Thursday morning came with the peak of the flood. Thankfully, we were spared. The waters didn’t reach our block but it reached many, many others. As our river goes back to where it belongs it will leave behind much destruction and many broken hearts.
Our thoughts are with those that weren’t as lucky.
Click here to donate to the Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal.