Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lessons learned cleaning up after a flood

1. My parents were VERY blessed not to have mud in their house. A muddy yard is okay. Wet carpets smell but carpet squares are easily removed.
2. Sorting through the possessions of people who hoard things (like my parents) is very difficult. Many of us ended up thinking that in some ways it might have been easier if the floodwaters had come up a bit further because it would have saved lots of decisions on what to keep and what to throw out.
3. Things can become quite tense between hoarders and chuckers. Not exactly a new lesson for me, but more on this in another post. (I am a chucker, by the way).
4. Volunteers bringing free food were much appreciated. Free sandwiches, drinks, sausage sandwiches, muffins, muesli bars, Calippo iceblocks and Lipton iced teas were all consumed during the clean up.
5. There were so many other people who had lost nearly everything. When we had sorted out my parents' cleaning (as opposed to their sorting out stuff) we went to help friends of my sister's who had their home flooded to the top of the windows (the height my parents' home went under in 1974). The mud and mess in and around these people's house was incredible. Since they were largely under control with assistance when we finally got there through the traffic jam, we went to help clean out a nearby high school with a bunch of other volunteers. This school had flooded to just below the ceiling height of all its ground floor classrooms.
6. The muddy mess of a flooded school has to be seen to be believed. Fridges, desks, televisions, DVD players, computers, games, paper resources, filing cabinets, art supplies, musical instruments (although the good news was that at least some of those were saved), the collapsed ceiling of the canteen, sporting equipment.....I won't go on. Hopefully you get the picture.
7. The aftermath of a flood stinks. A combination of rotten fish and what the tip smells like. And it gets worse in humid weather.
8. Big brooms can't clean up mud by themselves. Only gurneys and scrubbing can.
9. Gumboots are very useful when cleaning up in mud. But they get very sweaty inside when worn for long periods of time.
10. Great community spirit comes out at a time like this. I am a child of Brisbane's western suburbs. This is the place where I grew up, played and went to school. I have never seen anything like the camaraderie of the last few days during the time I lived there. It was amazing.

Please continue to pray for endurance for those involved in the clean-up during this stressful time and for us to remember that God is in control of all things.

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