Human Spirit Rises from Devastation; Community Foundations Are Rocked by One of Australia's Worst Natural Disasters

Article excerpt

Byline: Shane Rodgers

THERE are times when life seems to morph into a surreal and unnatural movie played out in slow motion as if it is happening to someone else.

There are times when the resolve of the human spirit is tested to its limits and the foundations on which our communities are built seem to crumble, leaving us vulnerable and exposed.

There are moments when we are reminded of the sheer power of nature and that our existence on the planet is but by the grace of our own strength and ingenuity, and our ability to triumph through a steadfast determination to stare down adversity in the face of despair.

There are instances when, in the midst of heartbreak and wretchedness, a hand reaches out from nowhere to pull us back from the brink. And faced with a task that seems beyond us, friends previous unmet arrive at the door to share the load and restore hope.

These are those times.

Over the past four weeks the state of Queensland and parts of northern New South Wales have been gripped by a flooding crisis that has been described as the most costly natural disaster in Australia's history.

Town after town, city after city have been deluged with waves of rainfall and storms that have filled dams and turned rivers into sinister seas of brown soup, cruelly engulfing all in their path.

Premier Anna Bligh estimates that 70 per cent of Queensland has been impacted by the torrent and 51 of the state's 73 local government areas have been declared disaster zones.

Hundreds of homes in major centres like Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Chinchilla, Dalby and Emerald have been totally submerged, leaving a lifetime of memories and possessions sodden and ruined. Towns like Condamine and Theodore were fully evacuated, twice in two weeks in Condamine's case.

At its worst, the floods crisis unleashed a fury that seemed scarcely imaginable. Images of people clinging on for life as Toowoomba's central business district was invaded by an insidious and fast-moving body of coffee-coloured water will stay with us for a lifetime. …