“I’m here to tell the truth”: Amelia, Townsville flood survivor

14 May 2019

“We have been forced to live and breathe the indiscriminate cruelty of the climate crisis first hand.”

UPDATE: 6 climbers have scaled the Sydney Harbour Bridge to call on Scott Morrison to declare a climate emergency. Stand with them.

My name is Amelia. I am here with my husband just underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of the team on the ground who are taking a stand to tell the truth: we’re in a climate emergency.

Six climbers went over the bridge early this morning and 30,000 joined them by adding their support calling on Scott Morrison to declare a climate emergency. Even though the protesters have now come down safely, the message is still gaining national attention. Check out the morning as it unfolded and take action here.

To tell you the truth, my husband Andrew and I used to be sceptical about climate change. But now there is no doubt in our minds, we are heading into a lot of trouble. We have been forced to live and breathe the indiscriminate cruelty of the climate crisis first hand.

When I said my vows to Andrew in the backyard of our Townsville home just six months ago, we thought we’d stay in the old Queenslander we called home, forever.

Back in 2001 the house had been elevated and we thought we were guaranteed that flood waters could never reach it. We’d had months of no rain. Through January we had what we call ‘evil heat’ – where it’s so hot that it makes any kind of outside activity extremely difficult and uncomfortable. The dam level was getting dangerously low and we had heavy water restrictions.

Then the torrential rain started and it didn’t stop. I’d never seen anything like it in my life.

Andrew went out to try and document the flooding and we helped who we could, but then we got the call from our neighbours. Our cars were going underwater. We rushed back to find our home had become an island.

When we were told the dam would be opened that night to prevent it breaking, we knew we had only three hours to get out.

We had to organise a makeshift raft to higher ground with the few possessions we could save – the cat in a cage. It was absolute panic. Tanks were driving through the river that used to be our street to evacuate everyone.

At that moment I knew we’d lost our home as we knew it, but I didn’t realise that it would be all the little things that make your life feel normal that we’d miss the most, like hearing our neighbour sing when she waters the garden, kids playing next door, and chatting to people walking their dogs in the evening. All those little things that brought us daily joy were suddenly gone.

That night we stayed with friends. I remember waking up at three in the morning and just bursting into tears. I can’t even begin the describe the grief I felt.

That first week was the hardest. You could walk around the supermarket and just see how much people were suffering. You’d find people in tears in the aisles.

We miss our street and our community. We miss normal. Some of us won’t be back until Christmas, or later. There is no doubt in my mind that we are in a climate emergency. We are living through it right now. It’s time our leaders acted like it. Will you stand with me and call on Australia’s leaders to declare a climate emergency?

It means so much to know that thousands of Australians stood by our side today. Thank you for letting me share my story with me. Check out all the action here, and add your name in support.

For Townsville,

Amelia and Andrew, from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.