This week hasn’t gone as I planned. It hasn’t gone as anyone in Brisbane planned. How do you plan for a once-in-a-hundred-year event?
Today, 75% of the state of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone, with flooding widespread, deaths confirmed and many people still missing. It is a grim day in this beautiful part of the world. The Brisbane River is swelling… spilling over its banks and swallowing our capital city. The river’s peak is due to hit at 4am and inundate thousands of homes and businesses. Many Brisbane residents will get little sleep tonight.
Our home is high and dry on a hill, and safely away from the river so we will not be directly affected. But I wonder – will anyone in Brisbane (in fact, in Queensland) not be affected by this disaster?
24hr rolling coverage is on all stations on the tv, so the kids have seen many images of our city in crisis. My sister is very close to the rising waters, and we are all keeping a close watch on details for her area. Her power is cut for safety reasons, along with 120,000+ other homes, so we are doing our best to keep her up to date on the unfolding events. My Dad had to spend the night with us too as all roads to my folks’ place were cut. Despite not seeing any floodwater in real life, my children are very aware of what is going on.
Today the kids played “floods” together. They set up roads and bridges and traintracks, then covered much of the landscape with a blue scarf. They had people stranded at one end, and built a hospital at the other. They flew a duplo helicopter from one end to the other, rescuing those in trouble and taking them to the “very strong and stable and high up” hospital.
I stopped for a moment to consider their play. I know that the reality of the situation is less black and white. I know that real people have lost their lives in this disaster. I know that this flood will impact communities in ways beyond my children’s understanding. But I didn’t discourage them. Why? Because play is part of their way of processing. They are making sense of the situation in their own way, and trying to understand the world around them. Their play is a healthy response.
I hope that this is all they will have to process. We’ll see what the morning brings…