It's a fairly flat area, but we weren't too worried when we got the first warnings of rising waters. According to the council, the property didn't get wet in 1974. According to the neighbours it made it to the yard, but the house was ok. Like many Brisbane houses (and Queenslander houses v, it's on stumps, as well. '74 was the flood year, you see, the only one of the twentieth century. Before my time, and yet still etched into common memory for a local boy. John Birmingham gets it right, even if he is from Ipswich. And after 1974 a whopping great dam was built upstream to make sure it didn't happen again.
The psychogeography of Brisbane is defined by 1974 and it redefined the geography in turn. Everyone has their family stories. My parents went to see the Harlem Globetrotters that night at Festival Hall. A few hours after they left it was underwater. And so on. Repeat. When we bought a house, we made sure it was above the floodline. Plus stumps, plus a whopping great dam. Buffer.
It had been all over the state, this water, straight after a drought, full of the bitch irony of weather that doesn't work on human scale. It hadn't hit us much more than walking in puddles and lawns getting out of control. It was getting close to home. Flash floods washing cars away in Toowoomba, a town on top of a mountain. Some grandparents there, we drove up that range every year as kids, in second gear. And the Brisbane flood warning was nasty - a hundred years is too short for non-human scale - but we were still ok. Then Tuesday afternoon they started predicting more than 5.45 metres; more than 1974, dams filled, peak at high tide on Thursday. They wouldn't stick to a figure, maybe 1.5 metres, that's bloody close for comfort. Businesses send people home, CBD gets evacuated, sort of. Suburb listed as impacted.
I finish work early, Dad comes, sister's bloke turns up with a ute, we empty the shed of the major things. Packing. Wednesday morning, prediction revised back to 5.5 metres, 1974 level. Minimarch asks to put the iPod on.
My Dream of a Magical Washing Machine 3:47 Laura Imbruglia
Television, the Drug of the Nation 6:38 The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 3:07 Gil Scott-Heron
Turn The Lamp Down Low 5:17 The Tea Party Edges Of Twilight
On The Radio 3:22 Regina Spektor Begin To Hope
Radio GA GA 5:43 Queen Greatest Hits II
I Hate The TV 2:10 Violent Femmes Add It Up (1981-1993)
Coffee & TV 5:19 Blur The Best Of [Disc 1]
Our Love Is Here To Stay 3:36 Shirley Horn
Radio 4:13 Vienna Teng Inland Territory (Bonus Track Version)
Headphones 5:40 Bj?rk Post
No Phone 3:52 Cake Pressure Chief
((Note to self: Shirley Horn better closing song for future disasters.))
Minimarch dropped off with my Mum in the first load, B's dad and uncle bring trucks and trailers, we empty the house. Radar pictures show little rain on Brisbane, it's all upstream. Radio tuned to ABC news in the car, TV tuned to ABC 24 at Mum and Dad's house. 1974 stories in the car. People texting, asking after us, offering help, we're ok, they're ok. Power at Mum and Dad's is cut off, it's so deep in the suburbs it's not even Brisbane city council, and way up a hill. So much for the DR site. Head back to the house for the final round. Council guy drops letters to say we need to prepare the house just as we're about to leave. Drive out past the bowls club, which always gets the rain runoff, it's flooded with at least half a metre of water.
No one seems to mention the 1893 flood. The one where it reached 8.35 metres. I have to look it up on wikipedia to even remember the year. Lots of good info coming on the friend mailing list, people watching twitter. I don't send this one on.
Head even further out to B's parents, they're further out anyway.
Prediction drops again, 1m less than 1974, we should be ok, nothing left in the house to sleep on anyway. Go back to work online.
Find Breakfast Creek River Height measure is online. This is the mark our property flood level is surveyed against. It's about 1.5 metres lower than the Brisbane gauge on the news, which was about my mental rule of thumb. Conference call. 1893. Sleep.
Thursday morning. Peak is 1m short of 1974, we should be fine. I work, B goes back to check it out. Our neighbours in a higher set house stayed put, and didn't see any water. It stopped two blocks away instead.
We moved most of the stuff back today. Lots of other places weren't so lucky. They're in the news. Mud is the minimum. Apparently sharks are a hazard.
Should borrow some gum boots.
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