Standing together in crisis
14 October 2014
“It’s horrific out here; I just can’t put into words what we’re seeing. But the resilience of people is amazing and in the middle of the anxiety and grief, people are trying to stay positive.”
Salvation Army Major Margaret Dobbie in Ipswich at the height of the flood emergency Salvation Army volunteers George and Linda Clarke knew their house was flooded, but that wasn’t going to stop them from serving meals at the emergency evacuation centre in Ipswich.
“There are so many other people who were just so much worse off than what we were,” George says. Eleven days earlier an emergency team from The Salvation Army Ipswich, including George and Linda, had responded to the call to fly to Rockhampton when severe flooding hit the central Queensland city. They spent the next ten days serving 400 meals a day, non-stop.
“I don’t know what I would do if our place went under water,” Linda remembers saying to her husband George as she served meals to the people of Rockhampton who had lost everything. Soon afterwards, the team was advised to return home to Ipswich, as the city braced for the floods to come.
Once there, George and Linda became stranded – the Wivenhoe Dam had overflowed, blocking the roads that led to their home. Instead, they went straight to the emergency evacuation centre at the Ipswich Showgrounds, where they would serve 12,000 meals over the next 18 days to other stranded residents.
Finally the roads cleared and George and Linda were able to get home. It had been flooded with six inches of water. The couple had been caught off guard – because their home was situated in an area that rarely floods, they hadn’t taken out flood insurance.
But Linda is thankful: “We still have our home … We didn’t lose our livelihood; we didn’t lose all our furniture.” After a few days off to pull up the carpets and get the furniture out, the Clarkes went back to serving at the emergency centre, waiting for their house to dry out. Salvation Army officer and evacuation centre team leader Major Bruce Dobbie says: “they both have that selflessness …putting other people first.”