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.
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.