Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Salon: Floods

As I am sure everyone is aware, Queensland has been inundated by flood waters this week with a terrible human cost for those who have lost everything, and for an unfortunate few who lost their lives. What may not be as well known is that that flood threat has now spread through five states including Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania. There has also been flooding in northern Western Australia over the last couple of weeks. It's hard to fathom earlier in the week they were comparing the size of the flooding to either the size of Germany and France combined, or greater than the size of Texas, and that is before the flooding spread to the other states.

Even the river that runs near me has flooded causing road closure. There's no danger to houses or lives (as long as people aren't silly near the water) but it is kind of weird to look at a piece of road that you drive over every day completely submerged by a rushing torrent of water. I do have some pictures but I can't for the life of me figure out how to get those photos off of my son's phone. Once I do I will post the pictures.

Personally, the end effect is inconvenience of having to drive around the long way to get where I need to go. I was also planning to go to Adelaide tomorrow for a couple of days, but because the highway between Melbourne and Adelaide is cut due to flood waters and isn't due to peak until tomorrow we have had to revise our plans. That means time at home, which will hopefully translate into some reading time, but we will see!

There are people who I know through blogging and Twitter who have been effected in various ways, either through having to evacuate, or whose livelihood has been lost, or who have lost many of their possessions. At times like these, you realise that it doesn't take much to connect with people who you know online - most of us know someone who has been affected, or at the very least knows someone who knows someone.

It seems completely surreal to think that just under two years ago our horror was due to terrible fires that destroyed hundreds of homes just outside of Melbourne and left more than 180 people dead in its wake.  Even at that time while there were fires near Melbourne there were floods in the northern states. Oh, this is a tough country at times.

Coincidentally, this week I have been reading a novel that is set in historical Australia called Walk About by Aaron Fletcher. This is the third book in the Outback Saga which follows two families from colonial days as they try to establish and run two huge sheep stations in the Outback. Of course, where you have a saga there will inevitably be drama but there were definitely surreal moments this morning as I turned on the news to hear news of flooding in places like Wilcannia and Menindee, when just a few pages before I had seen mention of these same places in the novel. Even though I haven't been to either of those places before, I instantly felt a jolt of recognition and empathy for those towns. Not to mention that the characters in the books had to deal with both fire and flooding.

That's part of what happens when we read. We are transported to places we may never visit, and learn something about the people who live there, the environment around them.

What has come out both through the book, and through the stories that we are seeing constantly on the news is the resilience of people, the eagerness of people to pitch in however they can possibly, the way people gather together to help those who have seen their lives turned upside down by the strength and fury of Mother Nature.

Now the questions come for those of us who are far away from the drama but want to do something - how can we help? There are lots of ways. The most obvious is to donate to the Queensland Premier's Flood Relief Appeal, or to well known charities like The Salvation Army or The Red Cross.

Within the book community, people are doing their part as well. I am sure there are many efforts that I am not aware of, but here are a couple that I do know of:

  • At the upcoming Australian Romance Readers Convention in Sydney in March 2011 there will be a silent auction allowing delegates to bid on donated items from authors. The organisers have put out a call for donations. There was a similar silent auction at the last ARRC convention which raised around $7500 for bushfire victims.
  • The Romance Writers of Australia have set up the RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal asking for donations of books which will be sent to local libraries.
  • Fablecroft Publishing has a limited edition e-book called After the Rain which is being sold by donation, and all donations are going to the Flood Appeal. The stories are all spec fic, which is probably a little bit out of my comfort zone, but this is one of the things I am going to be doing.
  • The Writers Auction 4 Queensland has been set up on Facebook. They are no longer accepting auction items, but it sounds as though the bidding system is in the process of being set up. Similarly, the Queensland Writers Centre is setting up Writers on Rafts which is another author auction, and there are some big names attached to the project.
  • The team behind 100 Stories for Haiti and 50 Stories for Pakistan are reconvening and looking for submissions to 100 Stories for Queensland - an anthology of short stories with all proceeds going to charity.

I am sure there are many other ways that we can help. One final, non bookish way, is to download the song that seems to have become official anthem related to the flooding - Never Break You by Casey Barnes. I know it is available on iTunes in Australia to download with all profits going to the flood appeal. I am not sure if it is available on iTunes internationally though.

And whilst we are watching events as they happen here in Australia, we are also conscious of the terrible flooding in Brazil which has caused such devestating losses there.


  1. all week I couldn't help but think how true are the words in Dorothea Mackellar's poem - we kinda do have all the best and the worst that mother nature can throw at us all in the one country

    I love a sunburnt country,
    A land of sweeping plains,
    Of ragged mountain ranges,
    Of droughts and flooding rains.
    I love her far horizons,
    I love her jewel-sea,
    Her beauty and her terror -
    The wide brown land for me!

  2. That's exactly it isn't it! Such a perfect poem for what we get here.

  3. This is just terrible :( I saw a video on the news where in under 4 minutes a river flooded enough to drag away cars that had been parked by the bank. It was just crazy.

    I do like how both reading and the internet make the world feel much smaller and encourage us to empathise with places and people and communities that might have felt distant otherwise.

  4. We are helpless against nature. And nowadays the human element is responsible for some of that.

    As I had mentioned last week, I have started a weekly feature on Sunday, Sharing Poetry With You, where I would be sharing any poem that has made an impact on me. It could be a classic one or a contemporary one, and anything in between. Do check out what poem I share today by clicking on Sunday Salon: Sharing Poetry With You. You are invited to convey your thoughts on the poem posted. In one word or many words..your choice!

  5. I've seen the videos as well, and especially rough for you after the recent fires you had. We're getting a lot of rain and some river flooding here, but nothing when compared to what is happening there. Take care.

  6. The video from there has been just awful! Thanks so much for posting those links on how to help!

  7. Having been through a terrible flood in 1979 and several hurricanes that brought flooding and destruction, I understand. I will add Australia to my prayers.

    I just read a book I loved:

  8. I heard my boss (he's an Australian) talk about this too...

  9. thanks for the update, Marg. I've been wondering about bloggers I 'know' in Australia. Glad to hear you are okay.

  10. Great post, Marg! I'm glad you are doing well. On a totally random note, it is really interesting/cool how Australians seem to have theme songs for a lot of disasters or occasions and use that as a way to get unity (and donations). Really smart!

    I hope it decreases soon. I am not sure how long it takes for a river to go down, but... hopefully it happens.

  11. I'm so sorry for what your country is going through! I'm glad that you're not in any danger. Hang in there. And that series sounds really good!

  12. I just get the chills reading your post. I've got family in Lanceville, about two hours away from Melbourne, and the last news from there was that there wasn't a lot of problems, yet. There was a lot of rain, though. I hope you will stay safe.

    On a more bookish note, the series you mentioned sounds very interesting!

  13. This is a great post. I've heard about the flooding on the news and via my Aussie friends on Twitter and its such a horrible thing. We are so advanced in many ways and yet Mother Nature is still more powerful. Last year Nashville suffered from horrible floods and even parts of my native state, Rhode Island, the effects are long lasting...waiting for the water to clear is just a small part of it. My thoughts and prayers will be with everyone effected.

  14. This is just terrible and I had heard very little about it until reading your post, so thank you for using your space to get the word out to those who might have their heads in the sand. I will be praying tonight over this and looking back over the ways I might be able to help. This was a really great post, and I thank you for sharing it with me.

  15. thanks for the info and updates, marg!

    Interesting that the book you're reading ties in to the current situation so neatly. I appreciate your thoughts on the resiliency of people, and the willingness to pitch in and help.

  16. Oh, wow. I had no idea it was so widespread. Like Debbie, I've lived through flooding and hurricanes, so I know just how awful it is. Water destroys absolutely everything. I'm so glad you're safe and thanks for the links.

  17. Thank you for sharing this information. Floods are so awful and cause so much damage. I was wondering who I might *know* here in blogland who are affected by this; glad to hear you are OK.

  18. My heart has gone out to everyone affected. It's so scary that we are often helpless against the forces of nature.

    On a lighter note ... now I have to track down that Outback series.

  19. Do take care. I've been following the floods on the news. It's really tragic! It's also uncanny because I'm reading a book by Bill McKibben, in which he says he was talking about flooding. I'm really sad thinking of all the tragedy. I hope it ends soon, I'm keeping all the families in my thoughts.

  20. Thank you for your wonderful post Marg. I hope you don't mind but I've included a link to it on my blog - it does such a better job than I did.

    And thank you for including details about book-related appeals. I'd been wondering if there was a way to help in that respect.

    (From South Australia)



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