Initial flood conversations with my daughter started on Saturday 26th February, we were already experiencing localised flooding in SE QLD, she was checking in that her younger sister and myself were safe.
We were fine, our estate had become an Island with no way in or out but it was not impacting our home.
By Sunday 27th February locals had completely emptied our supermarket shelves, our only source of food now gone but what mattered most was we were safe.
Little did I know, within 24 hours my daughter & 4 yr old grandson in Lismore would not be….
Sunday 27th February @ 10:25pm (11:25pm NSW) I receive a fb message from Tameika saying parts of Lismore were being evacuated but they were ok, I didn’t see this until 20 minutes later.
I was scared for them!
I remember telling her to pack a bag for her & Kaiden, get ready to leave but like many others as I’ve now come to realise, they were going off what happened in the 2017 floods & they were ok then… they weren’t expecting 2022 flood to be this big, so ferocious and devastating.
I didn’t get any sleep that night, I remember joining every Lismore fb page I could find to keep up to date with what was happening, feeling helpless here in QLD.
I was scared & had this horrible feeling… a feeling I can only describe as impending doom & I couldn’t shake it.
3:10am (4:10am NSW) on Monday 28th February more messages were coming in from Tameika water was rising fast; by 3:44am they were frantically calling SES & Police for help with limited phone battery and power already lost in South Lismore.
By this stage I couldn’t control my tears… tears that wouldn’t stop for days to come.
I had tried contacting Kaiden’s Dad who also lives in Lismore to make sure he was ok & alert him that they were in trouble, finally waking him I got Steve to also contact authorities to help Tameika, Kaiden and their housemates just incase they lose battery power before getting through.
They were told SES were on the way!
4:26am my ex husband rings to make sure I’m ok, to try and calm me down knowing our daughter & grandson were in trouble… our conversation is a blur to be honest, I just remember feeling so sick to my stomach knowing I could not help by baby girl. She was in trouble and I couldn’t protect her.
Our fb messages continued… time felt like it had stopped.
4:40am and I’m told the water is knee deep in their 2 storey house, a photo sent to me shows it’s almost up to the internal door handle.
Her messages are short and I remember Tameika trying to cheer me up… I was thinking WTF… it should be the other way round.
She now tells me she was trying to remain calm for Kaiden, trying not to freak him out. Her instincts were to do what she could to protect her son. By this time she had him sitting on the highest, driest point in the house… the kitchen bench.
6:45am no sign of SES, no sign of any help at all.
Water has continued to quickly rise with no end to the rain in sight.
These would be the last messages I received from Tameika; telling her to get to the roof… I’m yelling it in my house… just please get to the roof.
I never got a reply… I had completely lost contact with my daughter.
My phone was constantly ringing or dinging on my end, messages coming in fast from friends and family… I couldn’t tell them anything; I didn’t know anything. I just kept saying I’ve lost contact with my girl, she must be so so scared.
I was constantly checking Lismore fb pages for updates, that’s when I saw a video someone had posted of Casino Street, Tameika’s street. I can only describe it as a fast flowing river with barely the roof’s of these 2 storey houses showing…. my feeling of doom was growing.
8:46am I messaged her
‘I love you so so much ‘
I knew she wouldn’t see it, I just needed her to know one last time that I loved her… I needed to tell my baby girl how much she meant to me.
I couldn’t handle the silence of no more replies from her, I honestly felt like I was dying inside.
9:54am my phone rings and I instantly thought the worst… all my fears have come true, I was shaking so much I had trouble picking up my phone.
I hear a voice on the other end, a voice telling me my daughter and grandson were on a boat heading to the evacuation centre.
Thank you Reuben, you put them on a boat before yourself and your housemates. You sent them to safety while you wait and hope that someone is coming back to rescue you and the others. I honestly can not imagine what you were feeling or thinking at that moment; if I was this scared here, you must have been absolutely terrified there.
I don’t know how your phone worked after being submerged in the water for so long but I am forever grateful that it did.
I will never forget your words!
10:36am I finally hear Tameika’s voice telling me she had been rescued by a civilians boat and was at SCU
I could barely make out her words through her tears… she was safe!
Rescuers… to me they are Angels, true heroes for doing what they did. Not only for Tameika and Kaiden but for so many thousands of Lismore residents that were inundated by this tragic flood. Residents that were caught unaware of the intensity of it all… a flood worse than any they have ever had to deal with.
I am slowly coming to terms with knowing I’ll probably never find out who these rescuers are; I would dearly love to but there was so many out there that day helping how are they meant to remember everyone they saved (???)
3 weeks has now passed and our daily conversations are still the same, all about or around the tragedy we call the 2022 Lismore flood or ‘ground zero’.
From the clean up to tragically losing a friend, to how are they going to move forward from here.
I’m sure this will continue to be in our daily conversations for such a long time.
I still cry daily, my feeling of doom still lingers and I’ve come to realise it’s because I’m not
there… I haven’t physically wrapped my arms around my daughter or my grandson yet.
Due to a work injury over a month ago I’m still unable to drive… barely walk to be honest so I haven’t seen them yet.
I will though, I will get there as soon as I possibly can.
I need to hug my girl, I need to see her face, I need to tell her how much I love her.
I just want to hold them both and not let go!
I know this is something that will haunt me for such a long time; never really knowing how hard this is for each and every one that lived through this tragedy. I commend you all for coming together as a community and looking out for each other.
♡ Please be kind to yourselves, allow yourself to grieve but also know you’re not alone ♡
Thank you for allowing me to tell my story, a story from 189 klms away.