Monday, January 24, 2011

Tuesday - Qld Floods

The night flees to darker places, and Tuesday arrives in a new dress of sunshine. Finally we are having the summer we were meant to have; the warmth and sunshine we dreamt of, as day after day of rain lashed at our holiday plans.
Today the Brisbane River lays flat as a mirror, until a small boat forges a V, and wrinkles its skin.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Monday: Qld Floods

Ten pm and I’m almost asleep; just a few threads of consciousness remain, snapping off one by one allowing me to slowly sink into the arms of the night. My mouth relaxes, and begins to fall open when I hear it. The noise. A rattling, glassware-tinging sound. Someone is in the kitchen! Expecting any minute to hear the sound of breaking glasses, I rush naked out of the bedroom and tread cautiously up the hallway, only to be confronted by a very large possum, which seems just as equally surprised to see me.

We both freeze.

He dives down the stairs with me in full pursuit; trying to find an escape. Opening the front glass door, I stand back, there’s no way I want him running up my leg, but I tell myself this is Australia, and it’s a possum, not a squirrel. I think I’ve watched too many Holiday Vacation movies. Still, it pays to be wary, and I keep an eye on the cats, who sit nearby watching with disinterest.

Oh, good on you, cats! A big help!

After a few more bangs on the glass door, the possum heads back upstairs. Uh oh, this could go on all bloody bight, and I’m now worried about the state of my house! Fortunately, he ran onto the deck and scampered down the tree to safety. Repeat the same act at midnight. I’ll have to cut that tree branch off that extends over to the deck.
Today we have the assessors report on the house. To build again, to renovate, time will tell.
School returns, and a new normal will glide into place throughout the suburbs. Mums will kiss their children a little more, and hold them a little longer, today. Across the city, children will recount their flood adventures. Let’s face it; no one really had a holiday: too much rain, too much wet, too much flood and mud. Teachers will open fresh books that smell of hope, and students will sit awkwardly in knotted ties and new shoes, a squirming picture of duty and the future.

Love you Queensland

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday - all day.

We had a day off from the flood yesterday. My dear mate Johnno arrived last week from Townsville, to help his brother in the truck accessories shop, cleaning down the muck. He wanted to talk about anything but the flood. On the way to collect him from the train station, a fat white Qantas plane glided above. Resisting the urge to run my hand down its firm, hard flanks and tickle its smooth underbelly; the plane went on its way, as silent as an overhead shark at UnderWaterWorld.

Phone calls to neighbours and friends, come, share, enjoy; and then I’m making dinner for eight of us; and I can’t wait to hug them all and laugh loudly at nothing. I do love my house to be filled with friends, and strangers; chatting, embracing, eating and making memoires; it makes our house, a home.


On the deck, with Johnno: the orange waning moon is so exquisite it hurts my eyes to look at it. There is always something so melancholy about it. I have been, seen, and now its time to leave, my pinnacle is over, until the next time. It’s like watching a retreating wave on the beach, its only when the water recedes that the real beauty of the sand and her treasure of crushed shells is fully exposed. We sit in the dark loud night-silence and hear the possums and the neighbour’s birthday party. There’s something so wonderful about old mates; we can sit and just be in each others presence – no need for words or unnecessary chatter – and we submerge ourselves to the summers night sky, and feel embraced.


Today I have edited three video clips – I am behind in my work and need to catch up. It’s good to be back in the saddle, to do what I love and know so well. The rhythm of work and the creativeness of the projects engages me, I commit to sitting here for the next seven hours and working. My ebony cat climbs onto my workbench, looks at me, and flops on his side; already asleep. The day screams at me to join it outside, but my mind is made up. I must work, I must! Sunshine washes over my garden, teasing me; I have to stare at the screen with all my will. Insert, copy, paste, edit, render. Repeat.


My sons ring me excitedly from the Melbourne pub, Young and Jackson. Together with their partners, they are toasting to Chloe. It has become our family tradition each time in Melbourne to honour her with champagne and a toast. To Chloe!

Poor, statuesque, dead Chloe; so beautiful in her painted glory; so silent, watching the American-cruise tourists and interstate visitors, sit and gossip below her. She never blinks.


My husband takes Johnno for a spin in his blue Lotus. He hasn’t driven it for over a year, and I wave them off with a sigh of relief. It gives me time to edit, and I know they will enjoy each others company. It’s going to be a boy’s day, and its no place for me. I resist the urge to click my heels, but I do grin all the way back up the stairs to my computer screen.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I yawn open-mouthed like a hippo. Again and again, until finally the nice young man sitting at the table next to us turns his head and looks. I don’t care, I can’t stop the yawning and the over-whelming tiredness; I’m exhausted and I can’t be bothered hiding it any longer.

My husband folds his hand over mine protectively, and we eat our steaks in silence, punctuated by grunts of happiness and hunger.


Last night 10,000 men dreamt of mud, and 10,000 women dreamt of their homes and family. Possums mated above our home, hissing and chiacking under the waning moon. My cat checks in on me at 3.10am, to see if I am still sleeping; batting my hand with his love. I stroke him until the dreams come again.


My blog at is receiving some amazing comments. It’s humbling to be privy to some readers own stories, in the private inbox. Thankyou for sharing your stories, and remember to keep a little piece of your heart flood-free, and visit it often.


Waving off my sister-in-law as they drive north to unpack yet another furniture truck of mother-in-laws life, my legs suddenly buckle and collapse from under me, and I crash awkwardly to the footpath. Someone has pulled the string on my puppet legs, and I bruise my shins, knees, hands.


Today my old mate from Townsville arrives. We’ll drink too much and talk too much, enjoying each other’s rare company, face-to-face. He has been in Brisbane scrubbing his brother’s shop in Archerfield – all week – and is clearly ready to go home. He’s had enough. We’ve all had enough.


Thank you for my strength Patty

One readers heartfelt response to my blog.  Thankyou, *deep respect*

My Dear Patty,

You have taken us all on a journey of words that is repeated across our great State of QLD, your story times 10,000.

I give thanks for your awsome ability to write so well and to take us with you through your experience, for it is our experience, you write for us all.

You will never know just how much you have given each of us who read your memoirs. Not just a story to cry over but the gut and heart of us all.

I find myself nodding in agreement or acknowledging the same feelings in places as it could be our story too.

I live in Glenore Grove in The Lockyer Valley and the destruction, cleanup and pain is palpable. We too have our angels in abundence and tomorrow I head out with a group to Helidon and Murphy's Creek and later to Granthem if they will allow us.

I must suck up my emotions for this cleanup as they have lost so much and so many of their small community. I will need strength and endurance as you have done and keep my weeping to myself in a quiet place.

I will take with me in my head your story to give me courage and keep me going emotionally and to ebb the tide of fatigue as it will surely come and I have already dug out my Simon & Garfunkle album for the drive there and my Bee Gee's for the drive home.

Thank you again for your eloquent words, your story, our story, QLD's story of the Floods of 2011.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday - continued, Qld Floods, Continued...

I dream of loose teeth; of missing teeth. I have nightmares of being stuck, perched high above the earth, on a small rock ledge. Above and below me there are 1000 metre cliffs. I am doomed and I know it. Waking in sweat, I bump around the kitchen at night, fetching glasses of cold water to gulp down in the dull light of my computer monitor.
Meeting my old friend Nicky at our favourite haunt, the Black Cat Bookshop. We hug, and hold each other, arms locked in embrace. She offers to give me an oil treatment, a spiritual cleansing to which I readily agree. Three small bottles are placed in front of me. Choose one, Patty, she tells me.

One is a warm, sickly pink; this is for Relationships. It’s already half empty, there must be a great need out there for relationship healing? The middle bottle is a soft pink, the kind of gentleness you see on sunsets. It’s for Abundance. I shake my head, no, thanks; I already have abundance in my life. We move onto the third bottle, named El Moyra.

It means: Thy Will Be Done, and it’s this small sky-blue bottle of oil that I choose. I submit myself to the universe.

Placing three drops on my pulse points, we begin. Firstly a slow rubbing together of my wrists, then “angel wings” over my head and hovering over my heart charka. It’s all new to me, but this week I’ve learnt so much, this is one more thing to be engaged with and enjoy. Holding my arms crossed in front of me, Nicky begins: “Heal Patty and send her out into the universe,” and I close my eyes, instinctively pressing on my third eye as she speaks. I don’t even know if I believe in a third eye, but there I am, in the CafĂ© downstairs, being caught up in the emotion and stillness of this Blessing.

Tears come, and I can’t breathe. I am to slowly inhale the scent three times, but I can’t get past the first breath. It’s choked up inside of me, burning my throat. I’m almost gasping when the second breath hits me, washing my body with oxygen and love. This was something else! The third breath is completed, and the small ceremony is over. I figure it can’t hurt, and together we enjoyed a new aspect of our friendship. Thy will be done. Amen.
Last night, watched by an indulgent full moon, we unpacked the first of the neighbour’s garages, relieving them of my mother-in-laws contents. Hubby hired a small furniture truck, and after an hour and 5 adults carrying, packing, running the gauntlet up the steep steel ramp, the truck rumbled and lurched its way north, to safety and shelter. I drove my sister-in-laws car, the older 4wd whining and groaning with each gear change through the hills of Brisbane suburbs. Eventually, we growled our way home; to flop in front of television, computer screens, and to lie flat faced on white pillows, dreamlessly sleeping. Hubby and his sister and partner drove to Caboolture, to unpack and reload the truck, arriving home at midnight, exhausted. Today we repeat the whole thing another two times.
The night was thick with sleep, the city dull with rain. Banana bread is in the oven, and my sons’ old bedrooms are full of children sleeping. It’s beautiful to have kids within these walls, again. Today we pack, and drive, and unpack, repeat.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Brisbane Flood of 2011

For full screen image please click here.

The Brisbane Flood of 2011

Thursday – Flood Cleanup

I dare not open my eyes for fear of the time. Will it be after two am? Three am? Please God, let me sleep for a bit longer; please God.

Dear God.

The bedroom is quiet except for the occasion wheeze from my husband; and as I am bargaining with the Big Fella upstairs, the reassuring thunk of my newspaper delivery told me it was 4.10am.

Today we need to organise a truck to carry mother-in-laws possessions out of a stranger’s garage, as he is travelling overseas. So we need a truck, and we need some heavy lifting men with strong bulging arms and cheery smiles.

I’m hoping the Brisbane City Council have moved the pile of rubbish that was once the contents of the house.

More later….

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wednesday – Qld Flood hump day

Soft, candle-smoke clouds snuggle into Mt Coot-tha’s folds, hiding from the sun. A smudgy fog hangs over Brisbane; as though we need the filmy protection from the grim reality. The mud is back; the stench; the storms have come, gone, and will return again; and still the clean up continues.

The other afternoon an engineer came to my mother-in-law’s house. My husband and I met him, and then Blisters (I always turn up after all the hard work is done) drove down the long driveway.

The men all walked around the house; pointing here, photographing this crack, measuring with a bright yellow metal tape, the heights, the lines of the house.

Basically, the flood broke her back; the slab has tilted and shifted and major damage has been done.

There isn’t a straight line in the building.

A laser tripod is brought out; it’s spinning laser beam giving proper levels, accurate readings of the structure. It’s grim, but we knew that.

Dried mud lies in permanent puddles of grim dirt where cream carpet once lay. Mud splatters the walls, and the pool is a stinking mess of brown. God knows what’s underneath the waters. A cane toad swims in circles in the corner, as a child’s toy floats in the muck.

There is one final pile of rubbish to be dumped on the street, and my husband and I begin the shovel loads of water damaged everything into plastic bags. So many of my mother-in-laws university books and papers; so many childhood books. I wonder if my husband lay on his bed in a winter’s afternoon, reading this story.

My little sis-in-laws fashion drawings. I photograph each one, to honour her memory. Sleeping bags (the one hubby used in New Zealand walking the Milford Track?) electric blankets and so on, a household and a lifetime of stuff.

Inside the cupboard, below where the tv used to be, below where the stereo played classical music, below where the numerous photo albums lived, the set of World Book Encyclopaedias sticks stubbornly within the cupboard.

Three days ago I watched one of my Mormon Angels (LDS a.k.a Latter Day Saints) try to wedge out the books with a shovel. It took me a while to work out what he was trying to do. Beginning carefully, he tried to prise the books out; but they were too swollen with Brisbane River mud. After a good ten minutes, he continued to use the shovel, but out had gone the carefulness, and into the room came sheer strength and muscle power . But it was no good, the books remained where they are, still.

So it’s true, the pen is mightier than the sword. Or shovel.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Before and during Brisbane Floods - satellite photo comparisons.

Before and During Brisbane Floods
Move your cursor across the black line n the screen to give you the before and after aerial views. - Click this link to view.

High-resolution aerial photos taken over Brisbane last week have revealed the scale of devastation across dozens of suburbs and tens of thousands of homes and businesses.

The aerial photos of the Brisbane floods were taken in flyovers on January 13 and January 14.

Hover over each photo to view the devastation caused by flooding.

This is part one of an ABC News special presentation showing before and after photos of the floods.

Blinking moments

Just a quick snapshot of moments that pass in the blink of an eye, but emerge for me later, to fondle as I sleep.

Watching the brown water swirl around my feet, as I stand open mouthed in the loungeroom, staring at the river that refuses to behave, knowing I can do nothing more.


My husband taking me to dinner at the local Tavern, determined to feed me a steak. ‘You looks so tired” he says, with such a tenderness that my heart squeezes with love for him.


A final prayer with my fifteen remaining Mormon Angels, standing on the street, heads bowed. The middle-aged woman bless us all, blesses my mother-in-laws home, and asks God to help them in their care and chores for the following house, who ever that may be. Such a selfless gift.


Watching a silver-domed motorcyclist tap his feet and hand to an unheard rhythm as he rides the northern highway, snaking it’s way out of the city. It reminded me that I always have my music. Thank you for the heads up.


Bursting into tears of distress, and sitting hunched on the edge of my bed, whimpering like a beaten dog. I am a shell, and I can almost feel my soul retreating within me.


Finding in the last pile of rubbish; two cheap water-stained Albert Namatjira prints of the outback; with its shocking reds and vivid blues, reminding me that the sun does indeed still shine in other places.

I just have to remember that.

My husband tells me they are part of a bank calendar, from the 1960’s but I don’t care, to me they are beautiful. Art is what makes us human, it’s nourishes our soul. You don’t see giraffes or dogs painting (although you do see cats and elephants!) and ever since mankind sheltered within a cave and painted bison, art is what defines us and shapes our world and records our history.

These prints are worthless; but they remind me of my in-laws travels to the outback and beyond; and the other world of Australia, the aboriginal world of nature and the Land.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Everything I am I owe to Art and Simon.

I have always sung; I am a singer. There is a song in my head for every occasion, and for this I am eternally grateful. Blame long church services, and me; restless with youth and the itch to run and do and play, I would gladly burst into hearty hymns led by the booming voice of my father, an Anglican Priest in Rockhampton.

In our small street, there were three churches. The Methodists, who always looked so sad; the Seventh Day Adventists; who had recorded bell chimes, and us, the small, rowdy and dirt poor community of St Barnabas. I’d swing off the single church bell at 6.30 am, after a quick shake awake from dad. That man had so much energy; it exhausts me to recall it, even now. Thirty-three rings Patty, no more, no less, remember? Yes dad, you tell me every Sunday morning, and off I’d go; getting a good hard pull, enough to raise my skinny brown legs off the ground to my own hilarity. I am a clown, and together our black cocker spaniel and I would bay and howl together, totally forgetting to count the pulls and chimes.

As I became older, visiting the teenage years of sulk and flounce, my weight kept me grounded. The bells simply rang, and our dear old cocker would lay on the dirt nearby, one eye open to watch me yank the cord crossly in exasperation.

The singing, however continued; and I discovered the amazing world of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

In the stinking heat of Rockhampton, where the gasping sparrows found refuge under the eaves of the old Rectory, I would listen to each word, noting every guitar chord and sweet, melancholy utterance. They became my dearest friends, teaching me so much about the world, and making sense of the insensible.

They sang me of love, (Kathy's Song) sex (Cecilia) crime, (Somewhere They Can't Find Me) self belief (I am a rock) death (Richard Cory) architecture (So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright) light-heartedness (Feeling Groovy) graffiti (A Poem on the Underground Wall) and so on. I will always be eternally grateful to their music.

And so today I drive down from the coast, listening to their album in my car, singing with each, sweet note. I vibrate energy inside, in my heart. It’s my gift to myself, leaning on the old familiar strains and chords, lifting my voice to swell with delight to a favourite song. Driving back towards the steadying horror, which seems to have peaked and is now ebbing - each day fading the Brisbane floods from my memory.

Today the engineers arrive to inspect the house. Their report will decide the future of my mother-in-law. To bulldoze and rebuild? To buy an apartment? To sell the land?

In the silence between the music tracks, I am reminded of the Mormons Helping Hands, and their familiar catch-cry: “Good job!” Each thankless task, greeted with a cheery call.

“Good job Josh!”

“Good job Steven.”

Good job Brisbane!  We have shaken off the much lauded big city title, and have reverted back to a 'big country town', where neighbours help each other, and are involved in each others lives. Real people matter once again,  and communities are re-born.

Good job Brisbane. Love your work!

Want to help? Donate now to the Qld Premier Relief Fund.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Clean up - Day 2

The Brisbane River twists and turns its way through our city; doubling back and kinking its ancient river beds into a shape only a contortionist would recognise.

In front of my mother-in-laws home, it becomes a bay; a quiet inlet of tiny mud crabs and mangroves. It’s a beautiful chocolate brown river at the best of times; my sons have rowed on it, we have crossed its many bridges admiring the strength of her water and the elegance of hidden curves within the suburbs. Today the river sits in my mother-in-laws kitchen, and lounge room, and her children’s bedrooms. A mud crab peaks out from behind what were once placemats and serviettes; and scuttles off within the swollen cupboards again, hiding from the volunteers who have emerged to help.

When I drove to my mother-in-law's home yesterday morning, the second day of cleaning, my heart sank. I was the only car there. ‘Never mind, buckle up, and get on with it” I roused on myself. Again I walked around and took images, noting each stage of de-construction and repair. It’s difficult to know where to start. I need the pool area mud shovelled and then gurneyed off, and eye off the monster water gurney my husband has brought home from his work. I have no idea how to operate it. I can barely wheel it, let alone start the petrol engine.

Soon, Steve the builder arrives, and we walk around the house inspecting each room for structural damage. Call me Blisters, he tells me. Blisters? Yeah, I always turn up after all the hard work is done.
We stand together, arms folded, just looking. He points to a crack in the wall.

Was that here before?

No. I photographed all of this area, and I don’t remember seeing that.

This is bad, Patty, he tells me.

Yeah, I know.

I’m still uploading some images to Twitter when the first sound came.
“Yoo hooo” a cheery voice called out. “Good morning!” and there they are again; my marvellous Mormon Angels. There’s one or two familiar faces and the rest are new, eager young men with American accents, fresh faced stunning blonde women who should be still coming home from a nightclub.

They have brought an army of supplies today. Huge 10 litre spray bottles of disinfectant, new hoses, cleaning wipes, brooms, and stuff I can’t even recall. My brain simply cannot take it all in. We hug, and I burst into tears in their arms.

“Thankyou for coming again, thankyou, thankyou” and my voice becomes strangled and tight, I can barely speak.

“It’s our pleasure to be here and to serve you” they say, again. Wiping my tears away, it’s time to get serious. First, the pool area; and the gorgeous blonde and the young man take new shovels and begin the disgusting task of shovelling the thick mud, which is now drying at an alarming rate. It’s heavy, thankless, back-breaking work.

Wave after wave of smiling faces come into the house; some of the men organise themselves into teams, others come to me for direction. I begin to pack away dry food from the cupboard. Like most of our own pantries, some food has weevils and is clearly out of date, and other foodstuffs are new, recently purchased. I place them into two separate piles, but somewhere along the line both piles are tossed out. Oh well. We all meant well. It’s time to clean out the fridge. This is soon hauled up the driveway, and the mud that is left is disheartening.

Teams of women remove all that is left of the girls rooms. Mud and water have obviously damaged so much, but they find small things that may be salvageable. Another pile is created in the driveway, for mother-in-law to sift through.

An older woman comes to me: “Would your mother-in-law like this kept?” she asks, holding up an ancient, broken clock radio.

“I’m sure she would like that kept, but we are going to throw it out” I say, and we both burst out laughing.

During the morning Blisters comes to me.

"You shouldn’t be cleaning Patty, you need to be organising the people."

Yes, I know, but what more can I do? I already have three people cleaning out the laundry area, the pool area is beginning to look more reasonable, and the fridge has been moved, along with the washing machine and dryer.

Unknown to me, others are quietly moving the green waste from the side of the house, restoring the pathway that will give us access to the front of the house. I’m taking as many images as I can, for myself, for my mother-in-law and the insurers. Teams of two take out rubbish piles. I have no idea what it is. I stop them and try to photograph it, but it’s just a pile of bloody muddy mess. Unrecognisable.

Standing at the doorway of the girl’s bedroom, I hear a woman – on her hands and knees deep in 2 inches of mud and soggy chipboard – say to her colleague: “Its so good to be here working with you, this is such fun.”

“Are you serious?” I ask her, incredulously.

“Yes, we don’t get the chance to work together often, I’m really enjoying myself.”

The attitude of my Mormon Angels astounds me, I am so grateful, and touched.

Blisters and his friend, Ian, tackle the curtains. They need a ladder to access them but it must be done.

“Come on dearie, we’re on the curtains” Blisters mocks, and soon I have two piles. One to be thrown and one of each curtain, for insurance.

My husband has asked one of his employees, Wayne, to come and lend a hand. He turns up with his family of two young sons, and his wife. They all pitch in, mucking out the storage shed downstairs, until we all decide it’s just too dangerous in the slippery, stinking mud.

At lunchtime, the leader of the Mormon group comes to me. “Would you like to join us for lunch, Patty?”

I hesitate, but only for a moment, the truth is I haven’t had breakfast, so together we walk up the driveway, away from the hive of activity, but closer to the shocking pile of what was my mother-in-laws house.

There is a cardboard box full of beautifully wrapped food. Fresh sandwiches, in at least 6 different fillings; fresh fruit, apples, bananas, muesli bars and so on.

A large plastic container is full of tasty chocolate cupcakes with white icing. It’s obvious that much love and care has been placed into each lunch. Volunteers sit on the roadway, exhausted. I bite into my cheese and Vegemite sandwich, only to my embarrassment, hear the leader begin to say Grace. I swallow quickly and close my eyes, hands clasped.

His Grace is long and eloquent, and I squeeze my eyes as he also blesses me and my mother-in-laws home.

After we have eaten, finally, my mother-in-law arrives with her daughter. She’s naturally shocked, and quietly; slowly, walks around the house she designed and raised her five children in. She’s one of the lucky ones, really. I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose so much, but she has also been saved so much. We have all of her furniture, all of her photographs, all of her precious belongings and clothes. We have her home in cardboard boxes. Others in Brisbane have had water up to their ceiling, lost their possessions, lost their loved ones. We are all so blessed in comparison.

She comes to us, still standing outside, taking a moment to relax. “I don’t know what to say. Thankyou. Thankyou all.”

Her bed, the white sycamore bed, is going to be taken away to be restored, it should come up ok, and she’s so grateful. I leave them to it; tag off with her daughter, and head for home.

Want to help? Donate now to the Qld Premier Relief Fund.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Can you help? Sure, climb on board!

The January floods through Queensland have crippled industry throughout the state. With many small/medium business losing valuable equipment getting back up and running is going to be an ominous and expensive task for most.

The Queensland Flood IT relief team is a group of volunteers who are collecting spare PC's, printers, servers, from companies all across Australia. We will then service, and rebuild them with an aim to send them to people in Queensland who need the support to get started.

If you are a business, sole trader, school, or any other organisation that has lost IT equipment in the flood, please register you interest below and let us know what you need. We will be in touch shortly.

To allow us to succeed we firstly need your help.

If you can donate any of the following please do so ASAP to allow our team time to process the donations:

Computers - PC, Macs, Laptops, etc.
Servers or networking equipment
Spare parts - cases, hard drives, memory, cables, etc.
Phones/PBX system
Tools (to allow us to do our job)
Anything else you think will help.

If you want to contact us please do so via our email address or by phone: (02) 8003 7213.

We need transport! If you could help us get our refurbished equipment from NSW to the people who need it please get in touch ASAP!

We also need your time. If you work in IT, and can help our team clean/repair/rebuild equipment let us know. Any time you can spare is greatly appreciated.

Please note: The IT Relief Fund will not accept cash or financial support, please donate this directly to the QLD Relief fund , but we will greatly appreciate any other support for our cause.

The Clean up

Banana bread is baking in the oven, my cat sits beside contently purring, outside the birds are singing an opera, and all is well with the world. Uh, wait, there’s the flood, and the mess to clean up. Yesterday I drove over to begin a most horrific task, cleaning out the mud whilst it was still wet and pliable in my mother-in-laws home at Indooroopilly.

It’s impossible to know where to start, so I begin by photographing everything. For me, for the insurers, for my mother-in-law (who is staying at the beach house) and to share with anyone who is interested.
Someone has already been here; small footprints lead into the lounge, turn around, and come out. I don’t blame them! I feel like doing the same. In the 2 inch thick mud, small crabs have spun in circles, birds have left their imprints, and over here, in the family room, a cricket swims for his life to higher ground on the tree which floated into the family room.

Walking as carefully as I can so I don’t slip, I tread carefully though my husbands childhood home. I wonder what they did on Saturday afternoons? How they spent their time, as a family? There’s no doubt they were loved, and cherished. Childhood blackboards still hang outside, ready for a chalk drawing.

They say it’s the smell of the mud that gets to everyone. The stench of it all. For me, I am delighted, as the smell reminds me of my own childhood, happily exploring the muddy creeks of Pumpkin Creek at Keppel Sands, up to my knees in the thick sludge, laughing at a crab tickling my toes. The smell embraces me and protects me from the unfolding horror of cleaning the sludge off, before it dried like concrete.

I upload a few images to Twitter, I am a sharer, and have always been an open book in the cyber world. I am doing nothing different than I do every other day, it’s such a part of me the routine gives me comfort.
I begin to hose a walkway around the house; as we’ll need to access certain areas, and we don’t want to break our necks. By “we”, I really mean me, although I keep turning around hopefully imagining someone walking down the long driveway.

After two hours of solid hosing, I can see the house emerging, from under it’s new skin. On Twitter, offers of help come via my Blackberry, and I organise for someone's assistance tomorrow, (thanks Darryl King aka @ireckon!) but the reality is the mud must come off today.

And then it happened.

Two ladies walk down my driveway, introducing themselves as my neighbours, and asking if I needed help.

“That would be great!” I stammer, “Yes please!”

The thing you need to know about me is that I am a Capricorn, a no nonsense girl who just gets along with it. On my profile I say I am a do-it-now gal, and I am. It's not really for me the tetanus shots: (Dr didn't answer) or the trendy gumboots: (mine are in Maleny) - I just prefer to roll up my sleeves and get on with the task at hand. Perhaps it's my Rockhampton upbringing, but I have common sense in abundance; what a blessing.

They tell me how much of practical help my sister-in-laws were to them, helping them pack solidly for 4 hours after we had cleaned out their own house. It’s time to return the favour. As their house was slightly higher up, the water damage to them is minimal, in fact, they were hoping to move back into the downstairs family room that afternoon.

I’m shocked but happy for them. This house is going to take months of work. Months!

They leave, smiling. I continue to hose. Within three minutes, a band of eight yellow-vested men walk down my driveway, grinning.

They may as well have had 8-foot white angel wings attached, and walked in slow motion. I am having a small weep even typing this, I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I was to see them.

I begin to sing in my head the Abba hit, "I believe in Angels" and it becomes my earworm for the day.

They are part of the Church of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons, the ones we mock and hide from when they come knocking on our doors. I’m ashamed of my previous attitude to them, especially for me, as the youngest daughter of an Anglican priest. No one in my own family, my sons; or my husband has rung. No one from my in-laws has phoned me. To see these happy, strong able-bodies was such a joy.

Things have to be done before the mud dries. Carpets need to come out (so heavy, so full of mud), rubbish needs to be moved to the footpath (so far away, argh!) and mud needs to be shoved, swept, hosed, gurneyed.

They arrive already filming on video, (my camera is with my sister-in-law) and bring 200 metre power cords for the two water gurneys they have brought. Soon there is the sound of hard work, and I begin to relax, just a little bit. Two women, June and a younger girl, begin to hose out the kitchen and hallway. Now this is housework on steroids, and I love it. I start with another hose on the bathroom; built only last year, it’s spanking new and the reality is, we’ll need to pee at some time!

By the time I finish the two rooms, I’m happily shocked to see some rooms already stripped bare: nothing remains. Carpets and underlay are crumpled wetly around the garden like a war zone, to be dragged up the hill, inch by painful heaving inch, and dumped on the footpath.

At lunch they leave with an invitation for me to join them, but I keep working, giving them some peace. Within minutes another yellow-vested man walks towards me grinning; holding a pizza box and a full, unopened packet of TimTam biscuits.

“Here’s your lunch Patty. Make sure you wash your hands really well.”

In the afternoon, Telstra arrives to transfer and divert the phone to a mobile number, and the work continues. My husband sends down a larger gurney which doesn’t need power, and this makes short work of the carpet samples we have to keep for the insurance bloke.

Later, I drive home, a little shell-shocked, but delighted at our progress. Today we must do the pool area, remove green rubbish and tree branches, and pull out some built-in cupboards which haven’t’ survived.

There’s banana bread in the oven, our morning tea. It’s the least I can do to say thankyou to my yellow angels.

Brisbane Flood 2011 - Clean up #qldfloods

Cleanup photos

My feet after working all day

Opps, the shed is missing.