Devastating effects of the flood

It’s been another unprecedented week with mass clean ups going on in Queensland and New South Wales after many parts have been ravaged by the floods. As most of our team reside in Queensland and New South Wales, all have been either directly or indirectly affected. In Bellbowrie, Queensland, the suburb was completely cut off from the floodwaters and one of our team members and her family spent days isolated from the surrounding suburbs with only one grocery store servicing the entire community. Panic buying left shelves empty with no chance of being restocked. We are fortunate that none of us have lost our homes and possessions like so many others have. Watching the devastation of the community has been heartbreaking. 

As many of you know, our head office and Sally’s home is in Mullumbimby in northern NSW. Having only recently regained phone lines and an internet connection, Sally reflects on the devastating effects of the flood in her area:   

I am writing a week after the floods hit Mullumbimby. Our town is devastated! The most noticeable signs of this are people’s belongings on the street, completely ruined. The piles of rubbish are like nothing I have ever seen. And then there’s the mud in the houses – just so horrible. I’ve seen landslides and houses destroyed. I know those in the surrounding hills area of Mullumbimby are still dealing with isolation because of collapsed roads and causeways. 

Another visible sign is the amount of activity responding to the devastation. Helicopters flying overhead, lots of cars and people in town. We have the army, police and kind volunteers rallying around helping to coordinate services, clean houses, make food and provide counselling. Paid staff from Resilience NSW also arrived earlier this week to coordinate efforts. All have been amazing!  

So, there is help and I am certain that in a couple of weeks, signs of this devastation will be less and there will be movement toward restoration.  

But what of the short to long term impacts? 

  • Where do all the ruined possessions go? Into landfill – but how long can we keep filling landfill up as a society?  
  • What do displaced people do in a town that already has a significant housing crisis? 
  • How do we rebuild bearing in mind future floods? There are already discussions around the need to relocate towns and there certainly needs to be a focus on rebuilding buildings that can tolerate flooding.  

When I reflect on all of this, I feel sadness, despair and a feeling that we need to fundamentally reshape our Australian society. We need to be more moderate in terms of our expectations about how to live, to move towards self-sufficiency with a focus on fresh foods grown locally and less processed food. I believe this is also timely with all the global unrest and I pay my respects to all those suffering in Russia and the Ukraine. 

Amongst my feelings of sadness and despair, I do have hope, however. You only have to talk to family and friends, review your own personal experiences and look on Facebook and see the wonder of human kindness. This is apparent over everything else and gives me hope for the future. 

Take care all and look after each other.