Early this year we watched transfixed as Brisbane flooded. We saw the same piece of horrific footage over and over. We heard the victims' personal stories, and sympathised with them over their inundated homes. We watched with admiration the galvanising of the volunteers and the magnificent clean-up effort. Our television were as saturated by the floods as the houses were.
The magnitude of the flooding of Queensland's Capital City overshadowed other areas that were flooding at the same time - the slow insidious filling of the Fitzroy River that covered Rockhampton with water for weeks, bringing Ruby's daughter and her young family back home to live with Mum and Dad when it flooded her home, and the terribly fast flooding of the Avoca River in Victoria that totally decimated the small peaceful community that we call home.
In those first terrible days just after the flood, my husband dropped into our local hardware store in Melbourne to purchase some occy straps with which to secure a load of bookcases to replace those that had been destroyed. We were still reeling from the incredible magnitude of this disaster on our home, and still a long way away from coming to terms with what it would mean to our family. Anyhow, back to the story. As hubby was making his purchase, the store assistant happened to ask him why he was wanting the straps. "Do you really want to know?" inquired husband? "Yes, I really do," responded the assistant. My husband then went on to briefly explain that our home had been destroyed in the North Victorian Floods, and that we had been buying a few bits of furniture that we needed to safely transport home. "Oh, I've had enough of the floods now. I've heard too much about them. I can't be bothered any more." He then charged my hubby full price for the occy straps.
And hubby wiped tears from his eyes and learned not to talk to strangers about what we were going through.
A couple of short weeks later, at the beginning of February, Australian eyes were once again glued to the telly as Cyclone Yasi made its way closer and closer to the Queensland coast. Yasi was so large it would almost cover the United States, most of Asia and large parts of Europe. Its core was over 500km wide and its associated activity stretched 2000km. The flood victims were forgotten, as relief appeals were launched for towns at Yasi's epicentre.
We were still camping on friends' dining room floor.
Three weeks later the Christchurch earthquake occurred. Again, the television broadcasted the horror 24 hours a day. Yasi's victims were forgotten as we followed the death toll rise scarily higher. We mourned with the lost and celebrated as each survivor was pulled from the rubble.
We'd been home in our building site of a home for one week. Friends started asking us whether we were back to normal again.
Two weeks later the Japanese Northeastern coast was ravaged by the massive 9.0 earthquake leaving thousands of people confirmed dead, injured or missing, and millions more affected by lack of electricity, water and transportation. People are glued to the telly, and we learn with horror about the threatened nuclear crisis. We hear that it could be the world's worst nuclear disaster. The victims of the Christchurch earthquake were forgotten.
We were busy meeting with the site managers who are working to erect a portable building so that my husband can return to work. We have now been without an income for nine weeks. People have stopped asking us about the flood at all. They've moved on. Why haven't we?
And that's why I'm raising my problems again. Because while the media need to report on breaking news, sometimes we all need reminding that the people in Rockhampton are still hurting. So are the people of Grantham and the Lockyer Valley. And the folk in Tully and Cardwell. And those in Christchurch. They're hurting at the same time as the Japanese in Tōhoku hurt. And I guess I'm asking you not to forget us. Because I'm still hurting as well.
All this has put me in a difficult position when it comes to blogging. My life is consumed with what we're going through, and all of you have moved on, and on, and on. I'm afraid you'll think I'm whinging if I keep talking about how I feel and what we're doing to deal with the worst time in our lives. Because we're doing really well, but that's all we've the capacity to handle right now.
Dr Rob Gordon is a clinical psychologist with more than 20 years experience with people affected by emergencies and disasters. In this time, he has advised Red Cross and governments on how to help people and communities as they rebuild and recover from tragedies like Ash Wednesday, Black Saturday and the Bali Bombings. A week or so ago, Dr Gordon came to speak to our peaceful town about the Community and Psychological Responses to Disaster. Dr Gordon had many important things for me to hear. Amongst them were the need for people affected by disaster to talk about what they had been through before they can begin to heal. His research finds that the majority of people who have experienced a natural disaster will need psychological counselling, but that many people will need only one session. He reminded us not to work so hard at rebuilding what we have lost that we lose what we still have. Finally he told us something that brought gasps from his audience. He estimated that recovery from natural disaster takes not seven weeks, or even seven months, but actually between five and seven years!! Recovery from natural disaster is not a sprint but a marathon.
When it comes to recovering from the floods that decimated our peaceful community, we're barely off the starting blocks.
I don't know what the future holds for us. Getting my husband back to work is the next step. That'll at least get our days sort of onto an even keel again, as well as generating an income. After that we'll look at filling some of the holes in our walls in an attempt to reduce the number of mice and locusts sharing our home. Twice Jemimah has been woken with locusts landing on her face. Not nice. In common with most of the other kids in our peaceful town, Jemimah is displaying definite signs of stress since the floods. She is having trouble sleeping and becomes more easily frustrated. As her parents we see a need for constant reassurance and attention. The kids, along with their parents need time to process what has happened in their own lives, and to come to terms with the losses that affect us all.
Last week a local volunteer delivered to our front door the lovely patchwork quilt shown in the above photo. It was for Jemimah, and was part of a large shipment of similar quilts that had been delivered to our community by a group of unknown women just because they wanted us to know that they remember and that they care. They couldn't have thought of a better gift. Jemimah takes her quilt everywhere. Occasionally it lies on her bed, but mostly you'll find her wrapped in it in the kitchen as she does school or generally just snuggles. A home is where you feel safe and secure, and this quilt goes some way to help her feel at home again. It is a lovely gift.
Sarah London remembers us too. She recognises the need to inject some sunshine and colour into the lives of those affected by the floods as they begin to re-build and start over, and is asking for donations of granny squares which she will make up into blankets to be distributed to those affected throughout Queensland and Victoria, providing comfort and colour and a reminder that there is always a rainbow after a storm. If you would like to help, you can read more about Crochet a Rainbow on Sarah's blog.
I'm going to try and write some posts on things other than the floods in coming weeks. I want to bring you up do date with the wonderful things that we've been doing in homeschool, and to let you know how we're going with Australianising AO now that we've reached the discovery of Australia. It's going really well, and I would like to tell you more about it. I also want to show you Jemimah's and my current knitting project, and introduce you to Ripple. I want to review Ann Voskamp's new book (am I the only person who does not like it...at all?), and Sophie's Misfortunes (don't like it either), and the new Our Australian Girl series(which I do). I want to tell you what else we're reading, and how St Pat's day went, and what I got up to with Joyfulmum this afternoon. I want to talk to you about witches too. Truly. So I'm going to try and do that.
Don't think that things are back to normal. They're not, but if it is going to take me seven years to recover, then I'll not have many readers left if I don't focus on something other than my own problems sooner or later, and so this seems like a good time to talk about something else. I'll see how I go.
Thanks for caring.