Brisbane Floods 2011 - Aftermath - The Key Turns And The Door Opens

Neil Ross

Brisbane, Australia

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Artist's Description

These photos have not been posted for their artistic merit; far from it. They are simply my personal account of the Brisbane Floods 2011 and how it has impacted my life. All photos have been taken in my local neighbourhood, no more than 500 metres from my home. I hope they are of interest to you.

Friday, January 14, 2011.

Pausing for what seems to be an eternity, I slide the key into the lock; the key turns and the door opens. Well, it actually needs to be forced so I give it a bloody good kick! It’s so swollen and the furniture is piled behind it. The first thing through the doorway is my camera.

This is my home in the inner-city Brisbane suburb of Fairfield. The river peaked two days prior (Wednesday, January 12, 2011) and the water has now subsided. Almost 5 feet of water went through the main section of the house, more in other parts at the rear of the property. The high-water mark can be seen on the rear wall.

I cannot begin to explain what I am experiencing at this point in time. I know I’m in shock and feel as if my heart has stopped. A couple of friends told me about their own flood experiences and although interesting, I couldn’t really relate to any of it emotionally… until now! I know I am not prepared for this and nothing could have prepared me short of first-hand experience. I don’t even think I’m breathing as I move through the doorway. Everything is in slow-motion, my head in a mental fog. When I do finally take a breath, the smell hits me and it’s beyond description. I think to myself ‘This is a stench I’m never going to forget.’ The mud is something else, almost like primordial swamp sludge mixed with olive oil. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen and it’s everywhere, over every conceivable surface touched by the water itself. Each step forward is calculated because this stuff is slippery!

Not only that, but the humidity is extreme and condensation is over absolutely everything, even the ceiling where large droplets of water have already formed. The windows are foggy and the kitchen bench tops and cupboards are swollen and distorted. I’ve been to quite a few tropical rainforests in the Australasian region, but it’s nothing compared to the humidity here. The air is completely saturated, it’s hot and dense… and my God it stinks!!! To think that only 3 days before, this had been my home; clean, comfortable, peaceful, calm, inviting. Now, it seems foreign to me. Now, its mood is dark and heavy. Everything I see before me has been laid to waste, all destined for the dump. Where’s the home that I left just 3 days ago, and what the hell is this? It looks like an ongoing experiment in the Chaos Theory! The feeling of being completely overwhelmed is so strong I can barely stand without holding on to something.

My friend and flat mate Phil is with me and I say to him "This was our home. What do we do now mate? How the hell do we clean this up? " He picks up on the fact that the tone of my voice is flat and replies “You’re the strong one. Don’t give up on me now.” I couldn’t help but snap back at him “For fuck’s sake, I’m fed up always being the strong one that everyone leans on!”… but somehow I don’t think that’s ever going to change. Anyway, I’d rather be the strong one because at least I know I can carry my own weight… and I’m going to need all that strength now. I know I need a plan but haven’t the faintest idea where to begin. I feel so helpless, and that’s unusual for me!

(B&W – Sepia) with a slight white balance blue shift and gaussian blur to add some contrast in what was otherwise a very dark undefined image. This is probably the worst photo I have ever taken so I’ve taken the liberty of tinkering just a bit to clean it up.

Photo taken with Canon IXUS 80 IS and edited with Lightzone. SIMPLICITY is my niche!

This is the very first picture taken upon my arrival back home. Rubbish is already being piled onto the kerbside and there’s plenty more to come. The road is slippery, the path and driveway is slippery, and I make my way up towards the house with a sense of absolute dread.

Original Image. Someone tell me PLEASE what are you meant do do with a photo like this??? I was in such a state when I took this shot I didn’t even notice the flash didn’t fire. It’s one of the most important photos in this flood collection, but definitely the worst photo ever taken by anyone, anywhere! I have tried everything but am limited in editing options with Lightzone.

Artwork Comments

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