Dayboro Floods

It’d Been Raining For Weeks!

Months actually.
That’s not true. It only seemed like that. The water fell from the sky before Christmas day and continued right into the New Year. 
Almost every Christmas party held in December was a wet one. Work had a party. Friends had parties. I had a party. They were held indoors. Drenched umbrellas and raincoats adorned the entrances to all of them.

A mysterious boat lands in an open field.
We’d never seen anything like it. Rain may fall in other countries but not here, not now!

A week out from Christmas and I was wearing a raincoat and had kept wearing it throughout the holidays.

Summer in Brisbane is supposed to be spent in shorts and sweat, lot’s of sweat. 2010 didn’t get the memo. It closed out with some bizarre weather events.
By the time January rolled around, the ground was heavily saturated. Mould grew on everything. People developed cabin fever.
And on the eleventh of January, something new happened. The rain rate accelerated. What was large drops became bullets. Ten o’clock in the morning and they joined together. A constant sheet poured from the clouds. It would’ve been drier sitting underneath a waterfall!
We lived on top of a hill and were supposed to be unaffected. The Old Manse wasn’t immune to the big wet.
While the water fell and mostly on the outside of it, Margo and I hastily dug a trench around it to keep water from entering the lower level but the rain fell and water still kept rising.
A bedraggled dog joined us and cowered beside my feet. I was swinging a pick while it whimpered continuously, unconcerned about the pointy end. It knew something was wrong and it was better to sit with a stranger and his swinging pick than stay out in the rain and wait to drown.
We were successful in keeping the water out of The Manse but the Dayboro township wasn’t so lucky.
Like many towns, Dayboro was built around/on a creek – low point in the topography where water gathered. It served to supply water and to dump waste in. But whenever the water rises in that creek, Dayboro tends to get wet.
It takes a lot of water to fill the creek and then have it flood the town. Eagle Boys Pizza went under. The IGA was inundated. The Post Office, ABC Learning, Matilda Service Station and the local bank all suffered.
A brown waterline lefts its mark on everything.

Art gallery kiln shows the height of the waterline
Brisbane had similar issues… only on a much greater scale.
The Brisbane River’s boundaries leaked over into the suburbs. Some blamed those who managed the city’s dams. Others remembered a flood many decades ago and how little power we had then at stopping nature’s fury. A dam only buys time.
Compounding that ‘dam’ issue was an excessively long dry time beforehand that almost emptied every drop of water out of the city’s supply. Councils and governments weren’t eager to let any of it go when it finally came.
The December dumping answered every prayer. January’s continuation of rain lifted our spirits and the dams filled to capacity. But there’s a limit right?
I shan’t go into retro-specifics about why the dam’s gates were opened when they were opened, except I’d suggest that it must’ve been a difficult decision to let good, fresh water out. If it were me, I’d have kept it all… but it can’t happen that way. 
And so the gates were opened.

The release, a high tide, an ongoing storm and an already-saturated catchment converged to create the perfect flood. Brisbane went under just as the sun came out.

It was a surreal experience to watch and listen to a river rise and break bits of a city apart against a rich, blue sky. Logs, boats, houses, junk and various debris churned its way downstream taking anything it bumped into along with it.
All people could do was watch. When the water finally receded, a brown slick covered everything.
A group of volunteers from the drier areas of Brisbane thought it’d be a good idea to help those inundated to clean up the mess.

Gas cylinders dangle from a chain
The councils got onboard too and provided buses to collect people from the suburbs. Folks dressed in wellingtons and overalls were shunted about the place as they were needed.
Margo and I left The Manse to do our bit in our hometown of Dayboro. The Matilda Service Station had new owners. They took ownership of it just the night before the flood. Imagine their surprise to find their business’s driveway had been torn up and customer’s vehicles in the workshop drowning in brown slush. 
I felt sorry for them, picked up a shovel and started scooping up the sloppy slick from the station’s floors. I dumped it into buckets and carried it away. 
Margo hosed down what she could and we both picked up car parts, cleaned them off and placed them on shelves for the mechanic to find when he returned to work.
About half a dozen people joined us at the garage. Others worked on cleaning the IGA building. Some went to work on the post office. Every businesses in Dayboro affected by the flood had volunteers show up to clean up, clean out or dump stuff ruined by the storm.
Where did that water tank come from?

Mark Weiss and Sharon Jewell who’d lived at the butter factory for almost two decades had moved out just weeks before the flood. 

The factory is situated on the creek, on the lowest part of Dayboro and, although sturdy enough to withstand the rushing current, it’s in no way watertight.  If they hadn’t relocated to Russell Island, they’d have surely lost everything!
And so that’s the story of Dayboro’s 2011 flood. I thought I’d write something of it and post a few pics. They were taken right after the rain stopped and we were allowed to visit the town.
-Michael

Words of thanks from a business owner

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