The Mudzone: After the flood in Brisbane’s West End

Brisbane River is a lazy thing on any normal day. Ryan Street in West End tells another story right now. Houses clearly showing where the surge level got to. For some, this meant the lower floor of their home went under. For others, it meant complete inundation. There are only two realities here: the mudzone and the clean zone.


We are in the mudzone, and it’s chaos. Footpaths stacked with gyprock, insulation, whitegoods, now browned with sticky layer of smelly mud. Appliances, bedding, kitchen utensils, plants, bikes. Last week’s things of life and laughter are now just rubbish for some truck to tip somewhere.


The Night Before Christmas, in a bush on a footpath, looking the worst

Awareness of the indiscriminate nature of this disaster settles quickly. No one deserved this. Those who escaped it cannot thank their pedigree, their piety or profession. Some homes obviously belong to very wealthy people. A few doors away a run down home of someone less well off. Both flooded, they now they share some intense life experience.


In some crazy way this flood has brought people together. In loss and grief. In clean up and recovery. In support and encouragement. People came from everywhere: Tradies from Bribie. People from Logan. The Gap. Wellington Point. A surgeon from Nambour. And then there were ‘the Gernie boys.’ These guys were brilliant, showing up with a industrial strength petrol powered Gernie looking for some serious mud. Actually, it looked like they had bought the Gernie just so they could help with the clean up. It would have been a considerable financial outlay, but I think they were happy to do it just so they could help someone they didn’t know.

A few guys brought a barbecue in and just started cooking sausages for volunteers. A woman stops her car. There are eskies full of sandwiches, bottled water, and cut fruit. There’s a greengrocer giving away slices of watermelon and bananas – gloriously ripe. He has a huge smile on his face, claiming that his bananas have appeal. Even the bad humour was good on a day like today.


Just about everyone wore a smile. Every person you locked eyes with was someone just focussed on helping others. It was hard work. We left feeling tired. But there is so much that still needs to be done. So we’re going back tomorrow.


Question: what are your experiences of the flood or the clean up? Please leave a comment below…

Grace and peace,