In the Saturday edition of the Brisbane Courier Mail, there was a lovely letter from a lady called Elisabeth Gleckler, a survivor from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Elisabeth was writing to let flood victims in Queensland know that they were being thought of from across the other side of the world and to share some advice on what she had learnt from the disaster.
The pictures and stories from Queensland touch us her in New Orleans. We know what you are feeling and what you will have to do to rebuild. Maybe I can offer some advice for what to expect as you get back into your houses.
Set your expectations for longer timelines. Things will not happen fast (except the destruction) so be proud of each small step and yet think long-term.
Keep steady and try not to react to the momentary ups and downs.
Take care of one another. Your neighbours, family and friends are the ones who will pull you through the rebuilding.
Don’t forget the little things to help one another – small gestures can be so important. Focus on one another not the swirling rumours.
Don’t let your insurers off the hook. They make profits from you not getting your full measure of a payout for damages.
Don’t give up. Document, file suit, argue, keep the pressure up. If you paid premiums, you deserve all that they owe you.
Be very careful of contractors: The good ones are gold, the bad ones are very persuasive. So if you feel a little warning signal about them, trust the feeling. You may need some repairs but you don’t need to be the victim of fraud or poor workmanship.
Finally, there are some good things that come out of disasters.
I learned a lot in post-hurricane Katrina. I have a new world view and I developed a nuanced sense of humour. I encountered lovely people who came to help us rebuild, volunteers, (some from Australia). I found out that I can thrive and be a fine person even in a disaster – and no amount of water can wash that away.
Elisabeth Gleckler, New Orleans, USA