Update on Floods at Shoalhaven Heads - 11th July 12013

We have almost finished the biggest work load, including carting everything Gerald took upstairs to safety back down again, and clearing out cupboards and sorting and washing and cleaning all the blankets and towels that were used to protect and mop up. Boxes of files that he removed from cabinets to safety have been replaced. The sheds and garage filled with 12 inches of water and boxes floated about and toppled over, everything covered in mud and contaminated water. So much STUFF in those places! - sporting gear, camping gear, bicycles, wine, tax records, tools, fridge, electrical tools, lawnmower, carpeting and rugs, and furniture.

The front lawns were covered with 12 inches of seagrass and garbage and huge logs, all of which smelt bad and were holding in all the damp around the house. We were making decisions all the time, what is THE most important thing to do now? We made the lawns our first priority, to move that, wheelbarrow by heavy wheelbarrow, to the skip on the other side of the house. Who would know wet seaweed was that heavy? it took two whole days,whilst precious things sat in water elsewhere - with the two of us working from 9 - 5 pm daily. We have lifted heavy furniture and carpeting, carried every item into the SUNSHINE and WIND (thank you God!) - and then scrubbed with industrial gurneys, whilst one gurnied the other swept the water out with a huge broom. We filled two enormous skips with seagrass and ruined goods. We then got industrial dyers, and dried out the sheds and garage, befeore hauling every piece back. Gerald bought new shelving and erected it, I went through every item, throwing stuff out, sorting, boxing, and labelling. We now know where every single thing is in our garage!!!! Heeeey! (This is the Silver Lining .......!) It was a mountain of filthy work which has been mentally, physically and emotionally challenging. It’s been not only back breaking but heart breaking. I felt completely drained and wanted to sit somewhere and just cry and feel sorry for myself, too tired to find the emotional stamina to even talk.

We could have done with a team of strong workers to help hose out, scrub, disinfect, wash, discard and sift! I have a husband who finds it VERY hard to ask for anything ..... and have had to respect his wishes – so its been just us. We have filled two vast containers with ruined goods and a tonne of seagrass and garbage washed up onto our lawns, about a foot deep, which stinks – wheelbarrow load after wheelbarrow load. We have had a big gurney to help wash out the mud, and whilst Gerald gurneys, I swept with a massive broom, all the mud and dirty towards the doors - and after that, we put on industrial heaters to try to dry it all out. We have a temporary electricity supply to some parts of the house so we do have hot water to shower and cooking and heat - but no bath unfortunately! for those aching muscles ..... We lost a big fridge in the shed but managed to salvage almost all of the food, some of it is in the local butchers freezer. As hard as its been, others have fared worse, and our losses have been minimal really, albeit sentimental, and have pored through old cards floating in water from my folks and Josh as a child and maps of Zambia and historical documents like passports and Gerald’s Dad’s demobilization papers, and wept.

And life still goes on!

It will be another big few weeks before we leave for Africa, and months before its all sorted out with insurance and replacing things and doors to keep things safe. The electrician who was half way through the job got a call to say his Dad had died, and he left to fly to the UK, so we are in the middle of a big electric job and wait his return. We have some young friends coming from Sydney tomorrow to assist with a few things and take away a whole bunch of stuff we are giving them, which survived the flood but we are not using these things and they are expecting their first baby and have nothing much at all, so it will be lovely to help them. He will help Gerald hammer up some concrete and help clean the bathroom floor out which is still muddy (not a priority as we had a second untouched bathroom) – and it smells revolting – like dead things.

I am feeling much better today, haven’t slept much and had awful dreams. I am particularly sad that Josh never came down to help – or even offered to. We never heard from him for four long days.  I would have loved his emotional support, if not his physical presence. My husband is as strong as a Mallee Bull, physically and emotionally, and we have been in wonder and amazement at how strong and enduring and fit our bodies are, lugging barrow loads of stuff and shifting huge pieces of furniture, working from 9 – 5 each day ..... now THAT is a blessing!!!

Anyway, I took a breather, but Gerald is still out there, and there are many hours ahead today. He has just come back and had my car checked by Honda - it is safe! And I just found a WHOLE BOX OF UNTOUCHED PHOTOS AND CARDS OF MY PARENTS! And the sun is shining and the wind is blowing to dry everything out!  AND I just came from the eye specialist and my eyes are OK, not to go back for a year – so there is much to say THANK YOU GOD for!!!

So it was a traumatic time, without doubt. I have missed our son. I have missed my parents and my mother’s loving arms and encouragement and practical assistance so very much this last ten days of hard yakka .... she would have been in her element, cleaning and cooking and hugging and making cuppas, I have cried for the longing of her arms and love. My Dad always believed I could do anything and that Gerald was The Champion of the World, and his acknowledgements have spurred us always on to do more in life, and oh, I missed my own dear Daddy. And my darling Moet girl – I have yearned for my darling Moet’s inexpressible comfort of her big brown eyes and sighing unconditional happy presence. Sue and Ross and Sam are away ski-ing, so its been lonely.

Pouring this out unexpectedly, thanks for listening, I feel emptier, which is good for me.

Blessings to you all darling

Sandra x