Posted by: debrakolkka | January 16, 2011

Slightly damp, but clean

the house looks as good as new

the newly clean front door

just like new

we can see the floor again

the kitchen takes shape

the bathroom

the clean steps

The house will survive.  The kitchen and bathroom will need to be rebuilt and all the appliances replaced, but we were lucky.  The water didn’t get to the top floor and the ground floor is tiled rather than carpeted, so in a little while the house will be back to normal.

The most amazing thing that happened yesterday was that so many people turned up to help.  We had offers all day.  We were handling the clean up with family and friends so we sent most of the willing strangers on to others.  The intire area was swarming with people who were there to clean up.

A wonderful family member brought a very welcome lunch.


lunch break

 A neighbour was walking about with a fruit platter.  Their house was not affected, but they wanted to do something to help. As well as this somebody had set up a sausage sizzle up the road and kind souls were delivering sausages in bread to the workers.

the sausage deliverers

Because we were in so early, our house was one of the first cleaned up, but out in the streets the massive clean up will continue for days.

boys from the army borrowed our hose to start getting rid of the mud from the street

pushing the mud back to the river or into drains

using road signs to shift the mud

the road signs proved to be very effective

By the end of the day on Friday there were hundreds of people in the streets around us helping in the clean up.  On Saturday more that 12,000 volunteers had registered in Brisbane and were sent out in shifts using council buses.  This doesn’t include friends and family and people who just turned up to help.  People turned up with buckets and brooms ready to get stuck in.  Others were standing by with food and cold drinks for the workers.  Most volunteers had not been personally affected by the flood, but wanted to hop in and help clean up their city.

the postman arrives

In the middle of all of this the postie turned up to deliver the mail.  The mail must go out and life goes on.

On Saturday the streets were filled with workers again to tackle the mud.  The council moved in quickly with equipment and trucks to moved the muddy rubbish away.  The organisation was excellent.

the clean up continues

lots of willing hands

buckets and brooms everywhere

By Sunday morning a remarkable amount of work had been done.  Many streets were reasonably clean and almost back to normal.

the street looks pretty good

still lots of workers about

this is the street cleaned of mud with the road signs

a Sunday morning sausage sizzle for the workers and those in homes without power

donated items available for those who have lost everything

This will be the last post on the flood.  I am going back to Italy soon.  Before I leave I will get some photos of some of the areas that were covered by water, so we can see the recovery.  Thank you to all those who have expressed concern over the last few days.  Imagine how awful it would be if you had to face this alone.

December 2011 update – Most of our cleaning was of little use. The walls buckled and oozed mud a week later, all the fittings fell off the walls and everything on the ground floor had to be replaced. The renovation was completed last week, more than 11 months after the flood. We were lucky, we had insurance.


  1. Aaahhh, so good things are looking up Deb, sounds like you had an army of wonderful Aussies to bring life back to normal for you all. Glad its all coming back well for you.

    • It is looking pretty good isn’t it? Thank you for your good wishes.

  2. God bless all the volunteers, Deb, I don’t know how the city would have survived otherwise. And I’m astonished by the speed and how well organised it all seems to be! Glad it’s starting to look up. xx

    • Without the volunteers it would have taken months for this clean up to happen. What happened in our area was repeated dozens of times throughout Brisbane.

  3. Gosh it’s hard to believe that’s the same house. I’m glad that so many people were able to help out.
    …it must seem a little odd that in a few weeks you’ll be back to your life in Italy?

    • It is always strange when I go to Italy, because I also feel at home there. It is my other life.

  4. What a wonderful job everyone is doing. I am so proud of the spirit of the Brisbane community.

    • I think Brisbane is a wonderful place.

  5. I am really happy that your house is on the mend. My family were gob smacked at the damage you had to your house and within three months hopefully you will be back to normal


    • It is incredible the way the house was cleaned up so quickly. We started it at around 7.00am and it was done by about 3.30pm with around 12 people.

  6. Oh am so sorry Debra for what is happening!!! I have been thinking of you since the beginning of the flood and meant to write earlier but I was traveling covering the Referendum in Sudan.
    I hope you will recuperate in Italy away from all this mayhem.
    Good luck my friend!

    • Your job sounds amazing. You must see some incredible sights. Thank you for your thoughts.

  7. Hi Deb,
    Yesterdays and now todays post brings me to tears. The tears come because of the positive aspect. There is something about the Australian mateship that cannot be likened to anywhere else in the world. It is unbelievable to see how quickly you are getting your show back on the road. Thank you to all the volunteers in Brisbane. This support to people who are in desperate need of help is invaluable.

    • They all deserve a medal each. Nobody was looking for praise, they just wanted to help.

  8. What a fabulous effort – you make it almost look fun! Though of course many have not been so lucky, seeing the community working together is quite inspiring. They were rattling buckets at the performances of Snow on Mars this week, so I hope that little extra will help someone. All the best, Richard

    • On behalf of Queensland,thank you for your bucket rattling. We are fine because we have insurance and we can afford to do the repairs, but many are not in this position.

  9. Hi Deb
    Thank you for this story of your experiences. You are a natural journalist. Photo story is worthy of a newspaper or two.
    We are sorry we weren’t there to help. We leave here Wednesday so may pass you in transit. Have a good trip and we will catch up on your return.

    • I leave for Italy on 30th January, so i will see you before I go.

  10. It’s inspirational to see the community effort. I know I would have jumped into help just to get one of those sandwiches 😉

    • It was amazing to watch everyone work together to get things done. The houses and streets in our area were cleaned in 3 days and if you could have seen the mess you would have thought it would be 3 weeks.

      • I would send you a sandwich if I could.

  11. Hi Deb

    Glad everything is returning to normal for you. Glad you included some photos of the food, Ha Ha. Our thoughts are with everyone who has endured and is still enduring this terrible flooding.

    Back to Italy, oh so lucky. Looking forward to posts from Italy, especially the Lucca area.

    Arrivederci Judy

    • We are fine, but there are lots of people who have lost everything. Hopefully there will be ongoing help for them.

  12. Great photo story as has been said by others before me. Extraordinary effort on the part of your fellow citizens, quite extraordinary!

    Have a safe trip to Italy – where does all the mud go? Out to sea? You’ve lost a lot of topsoil there I guess. I know little about the ecology and the weather patterns of Australia. Best wishes from us here.

    • It was easier for us than some others because, while we own the house, we don’t live in it, and don’t have the same emotional attachment. I would be heartbreaking to lose treasured possessions. Everybody we came into contact with was in good spirits and grateful not to be worse off. Thank you for your good wishes. We will miss the sound of helicopters buzzing around all day. They were carrying news crews and search and rescue people. Sometimes we could see the helicopter out of the window and what it was reporting on TV – while we had power, of course.

    • The mud get washed down the river to Moreton Bay and eventually ends up at the bottom of the ocean I guess. There is still quite a lot in backyards. Maybe it will help the plants grow -as long as there isn’t too much oil and muck in it.

  13. It’s wonderful how everyone chips in to help and it’s great to see how resilient humans are. Have fun in Italy and I’m glad to see how great the house looks now!

    • I think it looks fabulous. It will be even better when we get the new kitchen and curtains etc.

  14. […] rest is here: Slightly damp, but clean « Debra & Liz's Bagni di Lucca Blog Questo articolo è stato pubblicato in Hotel, Hotel Lucca, Lucca e ha i tag bagni, […]

  15. I can’t believe you got your house cleaned so fast! It looks like everyone is putting in a remarkable effort, it’s great to see the community spirit alive and well.

    • It’s great isn’t it? I think the house looks amazing. We were horrified when we first saw it when the water went down.

  16. Hi Deb,
    So glad to see your place cleaned up so quickly. The place where I have been helping, was filled floor to ceiling with a massive rare book collection which had to be moved to be saved (some books were not so lucky) & so that the mud could be cleaned out of the whole ground level. It is (still going, but nearly there) a massive job because of all the moving. Every muscle and bone aches, but it’s marvelous to see how much has been done in such a short amount of time, and to see how many people are willing to help. Thanks for commenting on my site too – I’ve been tardy in responding because of the long, long days of late…. Enjoy Italy! Ciao, Theresa

    • We were lucky that we so many helpers and that my brother was very well organised. He went out the day before clean up and bought endless equipment – squeegees and big brooms. We had several hoses and a petrol driven gurney. I thought it would take days.

  17. Good on the Aussies! You can always count on the Community to help. They did the same in Melbourne after the forest fires. Brisbane is the top of my favourite Australian Cities. Hope you are back on your feet soon.

    • We will be fine, thank you. I have tried to sign up for your blog a couple of times. I always have difficulty with blogspot blogs – I just go around in circles. I have just tried again. I love the Amalfi Coast.

      • Thank you! Now I know who the anonymous comment was from! Sometimes I have problems on blogs too. Thanks for persisting!

  18. The comradship amongst the Australians on Saturday at Rocklea where I volunteered to clean up was so inspiring that it became at times overwhelming to soak in….Australians are so amazing in pulling together in such a catastrophic crisis….the true Christian spirit comes out in us all and beautiful to see. Glad to hear Deb you didn’t have too much damage, I was very fortunate and blessed to not even have a power cut where I am located.

    • Some of us were very lucky. Thank goodness for the volunteers (including you)
      I think volunteers will be need for a long time to come.

  19. Thank God you’re safe now and you got back your home. It is a great thing that people are helping each others, sharing the disaster, it eases the pain.

    • Thank you for your concern. There is still lots to do for many people who still have mud in their homes.

  20. Great to see a community coming together like that.
    Looks like the clean-up of the house has gone well. Hard to believe that it was flooded.
    How do you get all that mud and water out?

    • We pushed it out with hoses, brooms and squeegees and lots of muscle power. There were about 12 of us working for around 8 hours to gurney the outside of the house and hose and scrub the inside. All the windows, doors and walls were washed with buckets of soapy water and brushes and long handled brooms. We are quite experienced now and could no doubt hire ourselves out as house cleaners. It is amazing how much can be achieved in a small space of time if people work together. My brother, Peter, was the one who organised the excercise. He, like you, works on a ship, not the navy, but civilian shipping.

  21. Thank you so much for sharing Deb

  22. I was sorry to see that you were affected by the floods, but it was wonderful to see what a great community you have in Brisbane! Good ol’ Aussie hospitality! I love it!

    • We are OK. Some people have lost everything and it is great to see others helping out.

  23. […] here, here, here, here, here and here for the full story of the flood in […]

  24. […] here, here, here and here to see the Brisbane river and the flood in […]

  25. […] here, here, here, here, and here to see the floods in […]

  26. […] the next post I will show you the results of all the hard work.  Click here to see the clean […]

  27. Again, memories. Doesn’t it make you feel good about humankind? They turn up, work like navvies then go away never asking for even a thanks.

    • It made us very proud to be Australian.

  28. […] Slightly damp, but clean […]

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