By Martin Byrne
Getting used to being temporarily homeless, and to piece together moving forwards. A time of organization and practicality. I need power chargers for my phones so I can communicate with others, communicate with my Participants. Is everyone ok, have I considered everyone?
A place to stay at a friend’s home, a friend lending me some clothes. These kindnesses are so important.
Off to work to see what is left. Two days after the rescue and the river is still at the 1974 flood level. I walk as close as I can get to the bridge across to our part of town. I see an old work colleague with her partner about to get into a tinnie. I hitch a ride through the CBD, sounding out the bottom with brooms so as to not catch the propeller on submerged objects and power lines. We get to the bridge, I say my farewells and continue by foot back home. It looks like Baghdad after shock and awe, twisted buildings, smashed windows, cars strewn everywhere, shipping containers collided with buildings, and even whole buildings moved. Lots of stunned faces everywhere, people crying besides themselves with grief at the calamity. Debris everywhere, on the roads, in the trees, on roofs…
I am pleasantly surprised that our home is still structurally intact. Sure it is a mess but still there. First thing, need to clear a path through all the scattered possessions and furniture lying twisted and battered throughout the house and verandah. I start with one room and start to clear the sludge from the floor.
Next day Alex comes, and we start to clear all the festering rubbish away from the house. Meredith comes with cleaning equipment and goodies. Then Lynn with a gurney and more goodies. On following days friends arrive to help, a whole Jeder crew arrives, support workers. I help the neighbours friend clear a path in their home in exchange for us working together to chuck all the big furniture over the verandah. So much work going on, just in busy mode for about 16 days, with no time to reflect upon what has happened.
In between taking phone calls and checking in on Participants. Listening to their experiences of the flood. It has affected everyone, and everyone’s experiences and feelings are valid. One day I have to bring a clean shirt to attend a NDIS planning meeting on line.
Reflection: I felt like a machine that had to keep working to clean and dry our home as soon as possible. I really appreciated all of the help from everyone but may not have shown my appreciation at the time as I was so caught up in the whirlwind of action. It was good to take time out to attend to Participant’s needs, as it was easy to just become wrapped up in my own stuff. I am grateful of all of the love shown by people and want to let them know how much their help meant to me. I am usually a solo man but this was beyond my limits as an individual. It gave me a feeling of grace to be participating with others. Kindness was shown in many individual ways which are all equally important.