Clean up continues in Hermit Park after the Townsville floods.
Clean up continues in Hermit Park after the Townsville floods.

‘I honestly thought our number was up’ says Townsville woman in viral flood post

A TOWNSVILLE woman's story about her fears of being swept away by rising floodwaters on Sunday followed by her amazement at the city's resilience and community spirit has gone viral on social media.

Kelso local Sonia Solari shared her story on the popular 'FNQ Flood Watch' Facebook page on Saturday, and the post has since been re-shared more than 1,100 times.

Aerial damage of Annandale from a helicopter. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Aerial damage of Annandale from a helicopter. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Ms Solari told the Bulletin she was "taken aback" by the response to her story.

"I honestly didn't expect it, but I think people are desperate to garner something positive out of this awful event," she said.

"Thankfully I didn't experience the damage that residents in Rosslea and Idalia did, just minimal water through the back rooms.

"I cannot begin to compare my Sunday night to theirs."

Townsville Floods. Damage to footbridge at Aplins Weir. Picture: Evan Morgan
Townsville Floods. Damage to footbridge at Aplins Weir. Picture: Evan Morgan

In the post Ms Solari explained she had lived in Townsville for almost 16 years, and considered the city "home now".

"It's where my children have grown up, gone to a great local school with wonderful teachers, one now attending world-class James Cook University 10 minutes from home, and maybe one to follow in a couple of years," she said.

"I've experienced Yasi, drought, property market booms and fails.

"I've watched our city centre struggle but also seen lots of effort to beautify parts of it.

"I've loved walking along our gorgeous Strand, can't believe we can jump on a ferry and in 20 minutes be on magical Maggie and I often run around the river with my dogs (I'll be keeping a side-eye on that river from now on though).

SES volunteers Manfred Richter, Mandy Sapper, Mark Aylett and Colleen James who are part of the convoy of SES volunteers and fire fighters who are traveling to Townsville to help clean up after the floods Picture: Anna Rogers
SES volunteers Manfred Richter, Mandy Sapper, Mark Aylett and Colleen James who are part of the convoy of SES volunteers and fire fighters who are traveling to Townsville to help clean up after the floods Picture: Anna Rogers

"I've welcomed infrastructure like the Ring Roads, Riverway Drive duplication, shopping centre developments, The Townsville Hospital build and relocation, a new stadium (love it or hate it, it's happenin' so we may as well get behind it).

"I've also seen the negatives … crime, residential estates plonked where they have no business being plonked, crime, downturns in business, Yabulu (and Clive's bloody text messages … please stop, mate), crime …

"And I've seen some vicious local Facebook wars about all kinds of intolerances right here in our own city … racial, sexual, religious.

An army vehicle drives past houses affected by floods in the suburb of Hermit Park. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
An army vehicle drives past houses affected by floods in the suburb of Hermit Park. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

"However …

"I spent Sunday night at home with my teenage daughters, with my eyes glued to the clock waiting for 8 o, clock. I live five minutes from the dam. I fortunately had minimal property damage … some local flooding, some water in the back room, flooded garage, no biggie.

"Sunday night just after 8pm I heard the dam creaking and groaning, straining under the water weight, loud popping sounds like it was undoing it's top pants button after a big feed.

"I heard noises from that structure (maybe 2km away) that made my blood run cold.

"I heard the river howling and roaring like a wounded animal as the gates opened.

"I honestly thought, despite all assurances, that our number was up.

"All of our numbers.

"I thought it would fail. I had our ID's snappy-bagged and a ladder propped against the house so we could climb onto the roof in the dark if the worst happened, fully aware that if it did we'd never be able to climb high enough.

Aftermath in Hermit Park. Dean Ellis and Scott Fleming paddle through lingering flood water at the intersection of Goldring Street and Sherriff Strret. Picture: Evan Morgan
Aftermath in Hermit Park. Dean Ellis and Scott Fleming paddle through lingering flood water at the intersection of Goldring Street and Sherriff Strret. Picture: Evan Morgan

"None of us knew last week that we were heading into a catastrophe of such magnitude. North Queenslanders are the epitome of 'she'll be right'.

"That's why we're awesome.

"Doesn't make us ignorant, it just means we don't sweat the small stuff. But she wasn't right this time.

"And it wasn't small stuff. It was tragedy, loss, devastation, fear.

"Throughout the whole experience, I have noticed one thing. Our community, despite its failings, is a beautiful one.

2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment evacuation centre during the floods at Townsville.
2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment evacuation centre during the floods at Townsville.

"The many small kindnesses I have witnessed this past week have astounded me.

"The rescue efforts in chest-high water, the sand-baggers in the pouring rain, the clean-ups, the volunteers, the offers of help, the generosities of local businesses. Even people in the street seem kinder. It's a beautiful place.

"The point to this big story is, if there's a positive to take from this disaster, it should be … how much better is this town when everyone pulls together?

"How much more can we achieve when everyone unites?

"Imagine the future of Townsville if we carried this forward.

"We just survived, together.

Members of the Millstream Rural Fire Service Barry Thoroughgood, Peter Larsen and Mel Pope at the RFES Deployment Centre. Townsville floods. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Members of the Millstream Rural Fire Service Barry Thoroughgood, Peter Larsen and Mel Pope at the RFES Deployment Centre. Townsville floods. Picture: Zak Simmonds

"Right at this moment, we need to check ourselves. Be aware of how we treat each other, how we react, the words that come out of our mouths.

"I would rather live in this bubble of kindness we seem to have right now, even if it's in among all the destruction, than the negativity that somehow pervades our city and feeds off itself on social media.

"I'll still get the sh*ts when old mate in front of me refuses to use their indicator. I'm only human.

"But I'm grateful, just to still be here. I had the sun on my face today. I'm going to have a crack at positivity. And I absolutely won't sweat the small stuff."

 

 

This post was republished with minor editorial changes for clarity with permission from the author, Sonia Solari.



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