Wednesday, January 05, 2011

never send to know for whom / the bell tolls;

One of the things that has puzzled me all the way through this flood has been the flow direction of the water through the lagoon at the bottom of the street.

Last flood, the water was running from east to west as it rose, coming in from where the river overflowed into the south-eastern portion of Rockhampton. I thought that was the standard pattern, was waiting for it to happen again, thinking that the west to east flow through the lagoon that I wrote about a week & a half ago was the result of local rainfall that had filled the string of lagoons along the western side of the city, causing them to overflow & run into one another, & then run down towards the river until such time as the river itself overflowed & ran inland to meet & overturn this local flow.

This time, that didn't happen. Instead there was this continuous heavy flow charging through what used to be a lagoon but was now spreading further & further across the surrounding countryside. Just like the river in town, it was full of branches broken off & being carried along perhaps slightly—but not all that much—slower, & it was this flow that came up over the rail & road bridges at the south end of town to cut the highway south & west.

What I had forgotten was that the lagoons are, in fact, an earlier course of the Fitzroy River; that the river, whose outlet to the sea has shifted up & down over something like 200 kilometers of coastline during the centuries, has also had its inland path changed several times by floods in that same time.

It was only yesterday I realized—& I can't be alone in this, even though it's not been reported in the media or mentioned by officials—that the river must have burst its banks above the city either before or at the same time that it was making landfall at the bottom edge of the city, & was following one of its ancient paths in addition to the current one, diverting a significant quantity of floodwater away from the city proper & its measuring gauge, & actually turning this part south of the river into an island.

No matter what Donne says further on in the Meditation from which this post takes its title, we were, we are.


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