Friday, 14 January 2011

My Flood Relief Volunteering Experiences...


I thought I'd share just a few of my experiences from over the last couple of days while helping out at the Citipointe Church/Red Frogs Crew volunteer hub at Bulimba.

Yesterday I helped serve food to people who were walking along Oxford Street. Some were sight seeing, but some were residents who were without power and were walking down to the Brisbane River, which was 2 blocks away, to see where the water level was at.

Some of these people had been without power for more than 24 hours and, aside from going to a cafe, had not had a hot meal or drink. And they were feeling helpless. Their properties weren't necessarily damaged, but they were without power and were wondering what to do.

Other people who came to the hub were from out of town and here visiting but couldn't get home (north and west) because of flood waters cutting off roads. One lady actually came back today and helped out. She is from Noosa, doesn't go to church, but had to help out.

Today what I saw was a lot more heart wrenching than just talking to people yesterday. An elderly couple whose house underneath was flooded and were waiting for their son to arrive tomorrow with friends to clean up. It took 3 attempts by our teams to get this couple of accept our help. My feeding crew and I took food around to this house and fed approx 10 people.

On our second trip out we were sent to another street and the flood damage was a tad more obvious. The mud is gluggy and sandy and drying very quickly on any surface that it landed on. The Fire Brigade were at one house to hose out underneath and then the family and friends were there sweeping and sweeping (and sweeping!) all the mud out onto the lawn.

In that same street we fed 4 houses. My friend Ellen who was with me told me about an elderly lady further up the street who had goods ready to go for donation that had now been ruined by the waters.

The third street we went to Brisbane City Council workers were there - many of them - with two water trucks, hosing the street down. Along that street there were many houses where the waters had come up about 2 feet in the houses. Mud-dirtied furniture out the front drying out where you could clearly see the water line on it.

And mud...SO. MUCH. MUD!

One home I went into, where I had to walk across the backyard on wooden planks, their entire courtyard was a mud slush probably about 5-6 inches deep. On the nature strip out the front were uprooted palm trees, obviously taken out of the courtyard as the water just engulfed all the roots.

The most comical highlight of the day was when we were about to leave the last street I decided to hand out red frogs. Council workers who were busy sweeping or manouevering a hose...I just hand fed them a frog. Anything to keep them going.

The crazy thing is that some people did NOT want to accept help. They were there ankle deep in mud, sweaty and had obviously worked at cleaning up since sunrise, but who wouldn't stop. Me, being the bossy chick that I am, made some of these people eat. They were very thankful.

I have to say that I was very fulfilled by doing this and will return and do more volunteering tomorrow. To know that I have actively helped flood victims and given my time has left me shaking my head and wanting to cry at the sheer surrealness (is that a word?) of the entire situation.

I may not have been directly affected by the flood waters, but I know that my heart has been filled with being able to help out.

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