Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Even worse than expected: Mitchell, Qld

Things are even worse than we expected. There has been chest-high water throughout the entire house and over our land.

The inside of the house looks like it's been trashed. The two fridges have been knocked over, along with tables and chairs. Cupboards have burst open, spilling their contents onto the floor. Mattresses came off beds and jammed against doors. Apparently, the pressure of flood water inside a house builds up and is so great that things crash around.

On the other hand, my manuscript about Saint Francis and his gift with animals was a finger's space above water level -- so it is safe! As far as I was concerned this was the most important thing in the house. Money can't buy a manuscript that involved a pilgrimage to Assisi and 12 months of work. When Doug returns from Mitchell I'll resume my rewriting of the book and hopefully get it published. It's a book I feel passionate about, and although it's about a saint, it's not a religious book as such -- it's a book about a man who possessed an extraordinary gift with animals.

Our marimba and electronic keyboard went under. In the bedroom, the water went above dressing table height. Bedding and linen that I'd wrapped in sheets and placed on top of tables (to guard against flood and mouse damage) is soaked through with stinking water. The newly renovated bathroom is wrecked.

The caravan that Doug built had water over the beds and is a write-off, along with his lathe and 90 per cent of his tools. Our dinghy floated off its trailer and went on a journey across the block. Doug's 1940 Plymouth had water over the steering wheel. Our Ford station wagon is a write-off.

All the new tree plantations Doug planted and fenced are wrecked, likewise his vegetable gardens. The solar panels and switchboard are undamaged.

Stego lizard's house is so full of mud it can't be lifted. But there are some things to be pleased about. My olive tree, our three lemon-scented gums that Doug grew from seed, and our bush orchids have survived. Likewise a bottle tree and a few other trees.

This morning I spoke to Doug on the phone and he's exhausted through lack of sleep and worry. He's also feeling low. Today Heather and Bob will help Doug pack up anything not water damaged and take them to a storage unit in the industrial estate. There will not be much, but at least we have paintings, clothes and some books.

Over the past few days we have been shown countless times why it is that we've chosen to live in Mitchell. It's the people and the community that make Mitchell so unique.

The outback creates generous-hearted, salt of the earth people who care for others and are resilient, creative and kind. Even though we've lost our home in Mitchell we want to stay and rebuild, for where else would we feel so much at home?

But at this precise moment everything seems too hard!

These photos were taken prior to the floods. One shows the 3 lemon-scented gums we grew from seed -- prior to flooding. They have survived! Along with my St Francis manuscript these trees are precious.

The water went higher than the fences and gates shown in the photos, and much higher than the windows in the house.


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