The tenth anniversary of the 2011 Brisbane floods has crept up on me in a way, like the floodwater as we tried to save things from my grandparents New Farm house. It’s still hard to believe how the water rose so deceptively fast. And not just from the river breaching its banks but up road drains and inside houses up sinks and toilets.
Those familiar with what I wrote of it in, Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar know much was lost, including what remained of my grandparents’ possessions. While my home wasn’t impacted, I find I’m still affected by the floods I saw a decade ago. I still cry. For the 36 lives lost, three of those people never found. For those who had to climb onto their roofs to be rescued, for all the animals lost. And not only those affected in Brisbane but people in Ipswich, in Toowoomba, Grantham and its surrounds where they faced without warning an inland tsunami. For all those impacted that 2011 summer when Queensland had a flood incredibly, the size of France and Germany combined.
Returning to my grandparents’ house after the flood, I recall being stunned and quiet on the outside yet my heart beating fast. I can still smell the grey-black mud the flood left in its wake. Anyone who smelt it will know that almost primal, earthy smell, mixed with acrid chemicals and an overlay of death and decay. To see it covering my grandparents’ lounge suite and Nanna Francesca’s ‘good’ cabinet that still contained glassware and crockery we didn’t have time to save is a sight I’ll never forget.
The first two photos are my own and show the floodwater creeping up the footpath toward my grandparents’ house and then their part of Brunswick Street soon after. The others are courtesy of the ABC and are before and after the flood.
This anniversary will be very hard for so many people and my heart goes out to them. Yes, time passes. Experiences become less raw. Yet, they’re not forgotten. The resilience of people in the face of grief and loss moves me the most. When it doesn’t matter if rich or poor, or any of those other labels that often can divide us, all put aside when people come together to help each other. I hope we never lose that.