The 12km line of single vehicle traffic snaked its way back up the Toowoomba range. Usually the ascent takes five minutes. This time it took an hour. The great scar, from the huge wave of water that had assaulted the main street of Toowoomba, continuing unstoppable down the range, was visible all around us.
Who knows when things will be usual or normal again. Experts in disaster management and psychologists tell us that they will and that most people will recover well, but it will take time … years. Like my drive up the Toowoomba range everything that was usual will take much longer.
Recovery will not be able to be hurried; there are no overtaking lanes.
It will require great patience, respect for where everyone else is on the road and the hope that just around the corner the road will open up and the congestion will clear. In time it will.
Our communities will put themselves back together again, but they will never be the same. There will be gaps where people and things once were. This will be even more noticeable in small rural communities.
Some people may become even more isolated and disconnected from community life.
Divisions that were always there will emerge again as inequalities become evident when insurance and government payments are made. The euphoria of the shared experience of surviving this disaster will dissipate and so too will the abundance of goodwill.
What does the church need to be doing in the flood’s aftermath?
We need to be doing what communities of faith do best.
The church is called to be the body of Christ; a community that is a sign of Christ’s presence amongst all people.
We are called to make Christ visible; Christ who says come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will bring you rest, Christ who stretches out hands of welcome, acceptance and healing, Christ in whom the power of resurrection and new life is embodied.
Is it a coincidence that the Uniting Church in Queensland has committed to the statement of call: Uniting in Christ, acting with love, living with hope, witnessing in faith, working for justice? I don’t think so. For the sake of the gospel, for the sake of our recovering communities, we must live it well.
Sharon Kirk is The Downs Presbytery Minister
Photo : Colleges Crossing Recreation Reserve, Chuwar, near Ipswich. Photo by Lewis Yu