The cleanup

14 01 2011

A short one because I’m pretty tired.

The flood is over; at least, the river has peaked and is receding.

The long and heavy process of cleaning and rebuilding has started.

Today we helped people (some we knew, some we didn’t) scrape, sweep and wash sticky, smelly river mud out of their homes.

Sitting in our safe little stilt-hill-cliff house, it was easy to watch the tv and feel removed from it all. Even walking around the bottom end of the neighbourhood and seeing the water start to come in, or seeing the supermarket closed/underwater, it wasn’t very real.

Today was real. It stank. Everything was covered in brown goop. The owner of one of the houses started to cry as we pulled soaked gyprock off her walls; mud had gotten into the cavity and the walls were ruined. There were tiny dead fish and crabs mixed in with the rubbish and mud.

These things happen. People pick themselves up and move on. But the energy and the anguish doesn’t come cheap.

Bright moments were everywhere, though. Some women from houses higher up the street in Yeronga made a huge pile of sandwiches and sliced fruit, and came around the flooded houses herding people out to wash their hands, drink water, rest, eat. Someone brought brownies and Anzac biscuits to each house. A doctor living nearby went to her clinic and came back with a box of tetanus shots, administering them to a line of muddy people sitting on a retaining wall in a random front yard. Later, in West End, shovelling mud in a front yard, crews of people walking and driving past offered help.

So here I am. A pile of very muddy clothes in the laundry tub, a pincushion dead left arm and another day of it tomorrow. I sort of feel like crying. And I sort of feel like hugging everyone I see.

As a compromise, I think I’ll go and hug the Architect and cry a little bit into his shoulder.

PS: No photos of the cleanup – it wasn’t really the place for a camera.

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