While Perth endures a highly- fueled bush fire season, Australia’s other natural nemesis is making it’s presence known in Carnarvon and even more devastatingly in the eastern states. Incoming news reports speak of the unfolding drama affecting thousands of people in south-western Queensland, the well populated areas from Toowoomba to Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Even though the floods were expected and preparations in place, no-one, it seems, expected the suddenness and force of the headwaters, “like an inland tsunami.” At this stage, 8 are confirmed dead and 72 reported missing.
Resilience against natural disaster, well-practiced in this country but constantly stretched and tested, is possibly facing an unprecedented challenge. While there is always a sense that the present danger is the most confronting when calling forth our inner resources of courage, compassion, hope and determination, there is an emerging feeling that the wide-ranging effect of the floods that have dogged our country over the last two weeks is going to have a far-ranging long term effect. When Cyclone Tracy wreaked havoc in Darwin on Christmas Day in 1974, the national psyche was changed. The same might be said of the Victorian bush fire catastrophe of 2009. With regard to the natural phenomena and unpredictability of our seasons, each time they descend upon us, we become a little less laissez-faire, a little more respectful, and somewhat reflective.
Many people’s lives are never going to be the same again following these floods. It will be up to the Australian community to dig deep into its inherently generous and compassionate nature to stand with those who must recreate their living.