Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Day 55: A cautious calm after the storm

Day 55 (29 Jan) The day after a cyclone has moved on is always one for caution. Not surprisingly, the clear sky appeared on cue and one could assess the damage anew. While colleagues debated whether or not it was safe to return to work, others determined that a yard clean-up was in order. 

The calm is always deceptive. Just because the clouds have cleared and the sun is shining, the river and creeks continue to swell and the risk of flooding is still great. Driving on the roads can be just as hazardous...potholes, debris, water that hasn't drained away. It was just this scenario that caught me two years ago. Driving to work on the Sunshine Coast  the  day after the rains, I ended up staying up there for four days when, as it happened, I was one of the last drivers to get through the Bruce Highway before it was cut off. 

Blue sky, greeted cautiously, at 6.12am
Although the SunCoast didn't flood to the same extent then, I wasn't able to get back to Brisbane because it was flooding. That hopeless feeling of watching from afar unable to help friends and neighbours losing their possessions still resonates. I'm fortunate I have the sort of occupation where I can sometimes make the call to work on campus or work at home. I made the call to work at home today, just in case...

So, the sunshine and blue sky that greeted us this morning at 6.12 did so with a knowing grin...just when you think it is safe to go out...

Along with that sunshine, comes an incredible humidity. It's the kind of humidity that makes you perspire just typing it. It makes the clean up that much harder, knowing it has to be done while you have the chance to dry things out. 

The cleanup
Work is interspersed with listening to the updates on the radio-where the river is flooding, which suburbs are going under, the businesses which face water damage, again. Our reliance on modern technology comes to the fore as well. People have lost telecommunications facilities, though the twitterverse persists in marshalling the peeps, informing, updating and rallying people to help and support each other. It has its detractors but we have learnt to use twitter for good too. 

This evening, the city is facing up to the post-storm circumstances. Things aren't yet back to normal but we're getting there. Services are returning, but not yet to full capacity. Residents have been warned of restrictions on water...just like we did for the drought a few years ago; the irony. 

At the end of the day, 6.12pm
On the radio tonight, people are telling their stories: harrowing, stoic, concerned, angry, and cheerful...much is made of the Queensland or Australian character in times like this. It is a strong (though not unique) national trait. It's a fair reminder that in the clamour for individual success we still can come together as a community. 

We've a few more days to go of this, some repairs may take weeks, some, months. There's perhaps no longer a 'normal' to return to anymore, one senses these 'once-in-100-year' events are going to happen a lot more often. Underlying our 'take-it-as-it-comes' character will always be a cautious calm now, I suspect. 

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