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Archive for January, 2011

For the last few days, the only sentences I have heard the hubby utter has been “flood”, “once in 100 years”, “arrgh no once in 200 years”, accompanied by a whole heap of “oh no” and sighing, every time the TV has been turned on. We are people who have been sheltered from the vagaries of nature all our lives, hence it has been hard to get a grasp on what has been happening around us. Hardly had we recovered from the news of Brisbane devastation, when we realised that Horsham was next on the hit list. One minute, the river is flowing calmly and the next you know it is has broken its bounds like a rebel child. The sheer dread and apprehension that ran in the people was something so palpable…….but yet not easy to understand if you haven’t been in Horsham the last few days.
Phones have been ringing, messages left on my wall, friends enquiring anxiously about what’s happening…….and most of them from a ravaged Brisbane……in the light of what had happened to them, this was hardly in the league of such devastation but still the sheer amount of water that people kept bailing out of their properties to safeguard their houses was something a drought stricken Horsham had not seen in decades. Isn’t it true, when it rains, it always pours…….Lady Bountiful had indeed been extremely generous to Horsham 😦
I have been here only 9 months, but am amazed at the amount of battering this tiny town has taken. I entered the town when it was plagued by mice……everywhere u turned, u were greeted by stink and droppings. Then when people were ready to heave a sigh having wiped them out, there came the locusts. Yep, I can see you saying “so what”? For the unwary out there, do not ever drive into a town that is plagued with locusts if you do not want your car to look like a battered vehicle out of a sci-fi movie. I was perhaps too quick in admiring the gossamer wings of the locusts in the twilight till I was snapped out of my dreamer’s reverie and had to look at them for what they were, especially when your windshield is at the mercy of a swarm. Forget about them being a driving nuisance, they were every farmer’s nightmare, given that Horsham is mainly an agricultural town.
Then came the rains atleast by when most of us were grateful that the harvest were done. Sadly there is trouble with the storm water drainage in this town which meant you have a solid downpour and you are forced to sandbag your property the very next day. The unprecedented downpour unfortunately caused every creek, stream and river to overflow and then came the floods 😦 The danger of floods have receded in Horsham, however other nearby towns are taking a beating as we speak.
I have heard of the biblical plagues that the Lord sent down to afflict the land of Egypt, wonder what his agenda against Horsham was this time. The Black Saturday fires was yet another tragedy this town had to endure two years ago. It is sad to see that the residents of this town have been exposed to one problem after the other with no respite in sight. However I also have to say that every single time this town has taken a beating, it has rallied back, bounced back with its resilient community spirit to stand for each other in times of need and support.
Mmm, who said country living was quiet living????
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β€œHe who sees the calamity of other people finds his own calamity light.”

– Arabian proverb”

The week dawned as usual, but for some, it has been the harbinger of calamity. Mother Nature has unleashed her fury on unsuspecting crowds in this part of the world in the form of internal tsunamis and flash floods. Brisbane, the city where I had lived for almost 13 years and had called home is in the throes of facing its worst natural disaster since 1893. Over the last few days, areas of south-east Queensland have been facing a terrible ordeal – huge torrential rains causing unexpected and astounding amount of devastation. Everywhere you turn, you see news alerts and media pictures of floods and impending disaster.

The death toll is rising steadily with no immediate reprieve seen to stanch the number of people who have been reported missing. Even innocent little kids are not spared – young lives snatched away by the cold hands of watery death. Most people who have managed to flee the unrestrained vehemence of the floods are seen waiting on rooftops to be air-lifted by rescue helicopters, with no single possession on them, except for their resolute will to stay alive. Entire communities have been cut-off, people left with no roofs over their head, properties and infrastructure damaged gravely – entire car parks vanishing into thin air within minutes……and the alarming story still continues. The torrential downpour shows no signs of ceasing nor the fury of the raging waters seem to be abating. The embankment dam, which is Brisbane’s main defense against a catastrophic flood is facing its ultimate test amidst alarmingly rising catchment levels. The emergency crews are doing their utmost to save lives and evacuate people to safety with huge support and backing from both state and federal governments.

The latest telecast shows that people have been panicking and stocking up supplies – supermarkets running out of batteries, bread and bottled water supplies. It sadly reminds one of the fleeing scenes in all those apocalyptic movies, unfortunately here the drama is unfolding in real life. Those who have not been evacuated are waiting in dread and sheer apprehension as the floods are expected to peak in certain areas tonight. As the state is gearing for the worst, we all know it does not end here. Once the rains stop and the floods recede, other problems like water-borne diseases are going to surface as a consequence. But is that all? What about the intangible effects of such natural disasters?

We see families stranded with nothing – the total sum of their lives washed away in a single night. If footages of flood-wrecked homes and possessions can bring tears to the eyes of viewers, people totally and completely distanced, both physically and emotionally from the disasters, one cannot imagine the amount of devastation it is going to cause in the people actually experiencing it. It is hard to comprehend such tragedy; people usually find it a struggle to come to terms with what has happened or understand why it has happened? The question always remains – why us? Looking for intention or purpose or cause is not going to diminish the sense of loss, on the other hand it only enhances the inadequacy of the situation.

However, it is in the wake of such disasters where man is constantly reminded of his pitiful struggle and helplessness against Nature that the resilience of human spirit also comes to light. Communities have been rallying, garnering their resources to pit against the forces of Nature and in the wake of their strength and collective spirit, humanity finds a way to survive. The emergency services crew mostly comprising of selfless and magnanimously altruistic volunteers seem to keep the people’s hopes buoyant with their relentless support and rescue efforts.

Who has not a problem in their lives? But it is such disasters that serve as eye-openers and truly ask us to have a closer look at our issues and reconsider the gravity of our own problems. In situations of life or death, everything else pales into insignificance – tonight it is raining cats and dogs in Horsham and this little town gets easily flooded even by the slightest downpour, so who knows what tomorrow brings, given the way life changes dramatically? Maybe life’s harshest experiences are there to teach us a lesson – perhaps we are meant to learn to value life as it is meant to be and get our priorities right.

Take a minute to think of the lives wasted, potential wasted, especially those young lives cut too short……..is there anything else that is worthier or precious than a life? And yet we do everything humanly possible to make it complex and miserable……..if there is anything that such incidents teach us, it is to learn to live our life to the fullest……er, read the small print, in a productive manner πŸ™‚

My prayers to the families affected by the floods.

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