By KARINA ROBERTS
The television was on in the background yesterday and I wasn’t really listening, until I heard a couple of phrases: “Breaking news” and “rolling coverage of this unfolding disaster” floated into my consciousness.
It made my heart sink.
Almost two years ago, I was evacuated from my home in Brisbane’s West, taking just my laptop, photo albums and a folder with some important documents. An inland tsunami had hit Toowoomba a couple of days prior and the constant rain since, had meant the ground was soaked. I could see the waters rising slowly from the end of our street. I was worried the roads would be cut off and we’d be stuck in the house for days without electricity.
I knew our house was in a flood zone but I wasn’t around for the 1974 floods in the area. I’d questioned the real estate agent about being in a flood zone and even considered calling off the contract but she had said 1974 was a one in one hundred year flood. Everything would be OK.
I had no idea just how high the waters could rise. I worried that the waters might come up under the floorboards and the rug I had gotten from my Mum for Christmas might get wet. So before I left, I rolled it up and put it on the bed for safekeeping.
Sitting across town on much higher ground, we sat glued to the television set, watching Channel 9’s “rolling coverage of this unfolding disaster”. Every now and then there was “breaking news” of yet another street that had gone under.
Another person missing. Southbank was under. Riverwalk had broken away. Drift Restaurant was floating down the Brisbane River.
From the comfort of the couch, it all seemed a bit surreal, like it was happening somewhere else, to someone else and not me.
Until it was.
They say nothing is black and white, but when you see your street name right up there on the television and reporters in your neighbourhood doing their live crosses – well, it’s black and white. There’s no grey.
Your street has gone under.
Your house has gone under.
Nothing is the same.
It was a couple of days before we could get back into the house. The whole neighbourhood resembled a war zone with a smell no words could describe. People and emergency services were scattered around everywhere like busy worker ants, they scuttled between heavy moving equipment and rubbish trucks.