A once-in-one-hundred-year-flood has occurred in Brisbane just eleven years after the last one, although a West End resident I spoke to said the water didn’t come into their property this time. Still, in the low-lying areas of West End there are piles of sodden belongings out on the footpaths and people who have lost everything are calling for help on social media. And the Bureau of Meteorology says the rain isn’t over yet. As if we needed any more historical events to live through.
The sound of trucks pumping water from the basement carparks of so many high-rise apartment blocks can be heard across West End today, and the foetid smell of so much river mud and debris fills the air. Some shops are still closed, some places are still without electricity, public transport has been suspended, and a general atmosphere of shock and disruption prevails. Down by the river, everywhere you look, people are picking up things, shovelling mud, or just standing around in a state of disbelief, looking at upended pontoons and large things still floating rapidly downstream. On one corner a couple discussed Ukraine and the possibility of nuclear war. Bloody hell people! One disaster at a time please! Whatever happened to Covid?
At the South Brisbane sailing club, where anyone can go and learn to sail, all boating activities have been suspended and the boats sit out on the traffic island while they hold working bees to get the clubhouse cleaned up.
Along from the Sailing Club, the reclining seats that line the river bank at the end of Forbes St. and the picnic areas are coated in grass and debris, surrounded by silt and boggy grass. “Be careful of snakes,” one resident warns me.
The flood water has receded now, but the anguish of those whose homes were flooded, probably not for the first time, is just beginning. Some don’t have insurance because it has become too expensive. Brisbane always has and always will flood.