Flood at Hay Ave - June 25th 2013

Hello dear Friends,

Our overseas friends will not know about this on the news – even our house apparently! I thank all of you who have called to offer assistance and send support and love, we are truly grateful. I am writing in a lull in activity, and now we have power, as I know you are worried - to let you know we have just come through the biggest flood in Shoalhaven Heads for over sixty years – and happy to say, we are still standing. It’s been – and continues to be – very busy and demanding and active and emotionally draining.

It’s been a traumatic experience and luckily, the damage is not too great – certainly compared to what others have had, and what COULD have happened. It only came into the lowest level of our house, the main bathroom, but right through the garages and shed and gardens, both riverside and the other side, which flooded from the creek. The garage stored many boxes of treasured memories and sentimental cards from my parents and Josh as a child and our family passports, historical things.  They floated around in feet of water before toppling over – some were redeemable and others – well, I am painstakingly going through boxes of papers and ‘special things’, pouring out the filthy water, and trying to salvage and dry as much as we can. It is emotional work. The gardens were totally under water, and resemble a garbage tip - and we hope the plants will survive the salt water and the lack of oxygen the hours they were under water. We have lost many “things” – but they are only “things”. We are here!

The council have at the Eleventh Hour and cut a ‘notch’ in the strip of landing dividing the river from the ocean – just a bucket width of a bulldozer .... but if you could see it, the force of Mother Nature – with that small opening , it split WIDE open – I cannot estimate how wide – and now the ocean is flowing into our river (along with the sharks, as was pointed out to me today!!!)

Gerald dealt with the Big Night on his own. I was in Sydney, at Hazel Hawke’s Memorial Service, and the trains were cut and the roads, and I could not get back till the next day. Gerald was, as you would expect, a complete hero. Moving as much stuff upstairs as he could, how he did what he did alone, countless trips up and down with linen and precious things and rugs and lamps and books and art work - I do not know. He functioned with clarity and purpose, and overlooked nothing, was in constant communication with me, even as his battery was dying. Note to people! Make sure you have a radio which functions with batteries so you can keep in touch with the world, even if your mobile dies. He didn’t sleep for two whole nights and days.  I managed to get home on the train two days ago.

Our community is amazing, and everyone is helping everyone else. People’s children and friends have arrived from all over the place with gumboots and sweeping brooms and food – I am reminded of the precious gift of supporting people in need. All those news reports I have seen of traumatic floods around the world – as moving as it is, you just get on with things - well, its different when it’s you! We were without electricity and the fridges were off, and stinking!!! Our butcher took some of our stuff into his freezers, but we could not drive out and along our road for a critical period – some four wheel drives made it through, but people who came to help us, could not get to is. But we are now ‘make safe’ as the insurance assessor calls it, and have power for hot water and cooking and heat – it is winter here in Australia and cold.

The worst is past, it’s been raining lightly now and hasn’t rained for several hours today. Certainly nothing like the peak of the disaster at around midnight on Tuesday night, which Gerald handled alone – along with a great community of neighbours and the SES who came and sandbagged a section of the house. Today after the assessor left, we spent the whole day mopping up, filling a huge skip with ruined stuff. More tomorrow. Some sun to dry things out would be great. Our home looks like a giant garage sale with stuff laid out and ‘drying’ and a few hundred cards and passports and special things ‘drying’ – although the humidity is, according to my weather app, at 99 per cent ....

I have just had a shower and washed the filth from myself and hair, and have a HUGE glass of wine – and I will definitely have another! Gerald is now in the shower, a friend came by with a huge meal for us, and we have heat and light.

We feel profoundly grateful that we have each other, our house is largely intact, and we have each other, alive and healthy. Just buggered!   I have been fighting nausea all day, I think with relief that nothing more awful happened. My darling man has a very sore back from all the lifting and carrying and I love every cell of his dear body for what he has done and caused to keep as much of our life as safe as he possibly could. The Leader in our Family.

Thank God that we are safe. And ensure you go and check your insurance policies! Our house looks very messy but somewhat ‘normal’ tonight, and what a gift that is! Thank you God and the Angels up there who answered my prayers and watched over us.

Blessings and gratitude, dear ones,

love and hugs

Sandra and Gerald xxx