Brisbane Floods – Processing through Play

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…

(image source)

15 thoughts on “Brisbane Floods – Processing through Play

  1. Thanks for posting about this Cath. I can only imagine what you and your family must be going through. It is times like this that I am SO proud of the Australian spirit and the way that we can toss aside our cheeky competitive nature of ‘state ‘v’ state’ and band together simply as Australians! To all our friends effected by the floods, from everyone in Victoria associated with ‘irresistible ideas’ we say … Hang-in-there guys! Keep safe, stay dry, take care!
    Donna :) :)

  2. We had our own play to explore what was going on. In the pool today (finally in for the second time since christmas) we needed to let out some water, as I lent on the side it gushed over looking like the release of the dam, putting on my teacher brain, we looked at all the little leaves around and pretended they were houses. some stayed dry, others wet and some washed away. Trying to explain to a 4 year old and 2 year old what is happening to My parents house and my sisters house is not easy. Im not looking forward to venturing out tomorrow, while im happy to take load after load of people belonging to higher ground in my trailer. I cant wait for the roads to open so I can get to my family to help them out. Kids go to Shanes tomorrow. Mind you anyone in brisbane wanting to see some awsome guys at work take a look at the zillmere depot for sand fill. They are really hot!! Just finding a positive. ;) Anyone else wanting to help tomorrow I have 3 spare seats in my car. Going straight to the heart of it Gumboots raincoat just make sure to register as a volunteer on volunteers qld first.

  3. Wow, keeping all in our thoughts and prayers. It’s so hard on little ones to see the continual coverage on TV. This is a great way to process that.

  4. We are safe too (Redlands) but I lived in NewFarm before and I spent soo much time exploring Brisbane, via the riverside walk and the ferries. my son knows everything too but I saw he got a bit upset already from the first pictures from other regions. We talk A LOT about it, and I repeat again and again, that although now it all looks familiar, we are NOT in danger (that my husband already can’t work kind of adds to his feeling of safety, but it’s a bit of a worry) Even for big people these pictures are very upsetting. :(

  5. Thanks for this. My son has seen a lot on TV and been asked to keep quiet so we can hear updates. So I wonder what affect it’s had on him. It’s good to be reminded that he needs to process this in his own way too. None of us have seen any of this for real, but we did pack up just in case we needed to leave early this morning. Thankfully we are ok and it’s not as high as we expected. So many people are hurting from this.

  6. Thanks for this Squigglemum. This flood has affected us in various ways: a sister in Gympie, a sister in law in both Toowoomba and Dalby, and a husband who works in Milton. Our eldest son is aware of the flooding, he has been asking us about his Aunty who is on an island in Dalby. Hubbys work in Milton is flooded also. I guess all he wants is the reassurance we will be fine, we are all safe. Even though Daddy’s work is flooded, he doesn’t have to go in the water. I think both sons feel like things are back to normal today, hubby went off to work at an alternative venue… I think to a 3 and 2 year old, things seem to be normal again.

  7. Glad to hear you’re high and dry and that everyone in your family is safe. I’ve been conscious of all the coverage and the sensitive nature of my daughter, in particular, who absorbs things and then stews over them… I’ve not been turning the tv on until after her bed time because I just don’t think she needs to see the devastation.

    She did overhear me talking about it with another adult and was full of questions. We talked about flooding, what it was and where it was happening. She looked out the window at the pouring rain (it hasn’t stopped for the last couple of days) and then I had to explain very carefully that it wasn’t going to flood here!

    It’s an important issue you raise – there will be lots of little Queenslanders who are going to need to process this disaster happening in their world – long after the waters recede.

  8. Lovely post! This is twice in a 100 year period flood for me. I live out west near St George and Dirranbandi… so we are well accustomed to the flood now! Thankfully, we are still all high and dry, and counting our blessings. My thoughts are with those less fortunate than ourselves.

    Aside from the water issues, the whole rebuilding the infrastructure, replacing food on supermarket shelves and getting people to rebuild their lives will take many months and even years.

    Lets stick together and do whatever we can to help everyone get through this as quickly as possible. xxx

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