I had rung to apply for the Qld State government grant to recover the lost costs of food and other hardships suffered during the cyclone. They hadn’t rung me back so along I went to the newly opened Disaster Centre in the Tamborine Community Centre. This was funded by the government with helpers mainly volunteers and councillors organising the response. I went first on Saturday and was told it was a 5 hour wait and to come back later in the week.
I went back on Tuesday. This time they gave me a raffle ticket. At 3 pm I was too late to get in that day, but at least I had a ticket to come back the next day. They advised me to come before the Centre opened at 10 am. I turned up at 8 am and there were already people there. Most had tickets, so when the Centre opened around 8.30, those with tickets were let in and could access the facilities in the Centre including a seat and toilets. They then called out the tickets that had been issued since Friday, and those people had priority. That was about 3 hrs worth of people and bear in mind the processing officers hadn’t arrived yet to even begin.
When I was moved up to the next stage, they were still processing people and letting them into the hall, where the queues were about 3 hours. Well before midday, they closed the queue for the day and people were told to come back the next day. There was uncertainty whether they were even going to continue the next day. These people who waited all day, in my case 5 hours, had all suffered damage, some had children, babes in arms with them. To say it was over whelming is an understatement. However it did bring out the best in most people. There were volunteers who provided lunch with goods supplied from Coles.
A Channel 9 filmcrew arrived and interviewed some of the people waiting, so we had our entertainment and proved some for those watching the 6 pm news.
Of course they were mostly locals, so you chatted to your neighbours and told stories of what you’d endured during the cyclone. The woman I had minded a place for while she went home to attend to some business, (I told everyone was my imaginary friend, as I moved a bag up, as we edged closer to the front of the hall) had had the next door neighbour’s roof land on her verandah. Yesterday I met someone who had just scattered her husband’s ashes interstate and returned to find her house covered in mould. Is it really necessary to put already stressed people, through more stress? There has to be a better way.
When I finally got out of there with my cheque for $180, I had hired a trailer to remove the rubbish to the tip and got on with the clean up. Meanwhile XLibris has now got Kakadu Dreaming up on their bookshop and is taking orders and they have started the classified marketing campaign. I have ordered a copy just to make sure it arrives in good time as standard postage.