Watching. Hoping. Gripped to the headlines of the Queensland floods.
From the flash flooding in Toowoomba a week ago, you tube clips of cars washed away in a raging river (that was once a creek). To scenes of people trapped on their rooftops, clinging onto trees - or the haunting image of a family of three sitting on the roof of their car while it slowly sinks into the moving debris-filled water of the inland tsunami.
Thinking of my own family, whose old house flooded less than two years ago when the creek behind their house rose to fill the bottom level. They had only just sold their home and were preparing to move into their new house, somewhere up the hill in the same neighbourhood. The floodwaters rose quickly, and they scarcely had time to get out, so they lost so much. Then, last week, with a bit more warning this time, they prepared their home to face the worst flooding in decades.
I could hardly believe my eyes when I received a message from my aunt on Facebook telling me that they were evacuating. Their new house has only one level. They took what they could and left so much behind - including many family heirlooms. My mum spoke to her sister each morning and listened while she tearfully gave updates about the devastation around her.
Miraculously, the rain subsided. The flood water stopped a meter lower than where it was feared to reach, below the flood line of 1974. And, for my aunt and uncle, the water came within a foot of their front door. Then stopped.
I keep watching. And, I keep hoping. Rescuers found two of the three who were sitting on the roof of their car. The number of missing people keeps getting smaller. Amidst stories of looting and scams are stories of communities coming together to help each other clean up. Yesterday, my aunt and uncle cooked sausages for the neighbourhood on their barbeque. Today, someone else returns the favor. They all work together to put their homes back and clean up.
The country mourns what they've lost. They find strength in stories of courage. Like this one about Jordan Rice, a 13 year old boy who died to save his 10 year old brother.
And, they wait.
Flooding now threatens communities in Victoria. So I will keep watching. And hoping.