Saturday, May 21, 2011

Follow Up - Queensland Floods

Hello Fellow Jessaholics,

I must apologise for not visiting here for such a long time. No real excuses but the fact that quality time has been a commodity in very short supply due to the business taking up most of my waking hours. Anyway, its really good to be back and I thought I would share with all of you some very confronting, yet life changing experiences I had on a little trip I made up to Queensland.

Just watching the pain and suffering being experienced by my fellow Aussie's got the better of me so I started making enquiries with a number of organisations including local councils and government departments in an attempt to get to flood affected families directly. I did not have much success but kept on trying anyway.

One day, I happened to be watching A Current Affair on Channel 9 (a program I very rarely watch) and there was a segment on a small FM radio station that had set up a website to connect flood victims who either did not have any insurance or were done in by their insurance carriers to individuals or organisations who could help them directly.

I immediately wrote them an email and received a response within 24 hours. Long story short, Juice FM on the Gold Coast connected me directly with four families who were completely devastated by the floods and either had no insurance or were not being paid out.

I cashed in some frequent flyer miles and headed up to Queensland in March and had the honour and privilege of meeting all four families. Two of these families were very young and just starting out in life. The third was from Grantham which was "ground zero" (worst affected). The fourth was a lady who had lost her husband only nine months ago and now this.

I took each one of them to the local Good Guys, Retravision etc and purchased for them things like cooktops, rangehoods, ovens, split aircon units, fridges, dryers, lawnmowers etc. Anything that was needed immediately by these families. I could not begin to tell you how this touched my heart. All these families were initially reluctant to impose on me but I insisted. It was a big expense but I just had to do it. Money never really meant too much to me anyway. At this stage of my life, its about fulfillment.

I have attached some pictures of Grantham just to give you an idea of just how terrible the floods were there. Houses were pulled off their foundation slabs and transported up to 300 metres away. Look closely at the pictures - the brown spots are where the houses were originally.

I had a tough time choking back the tears and when I saw a particular home where a young mother was fleeing the rising waters with her infant and while tripping on a log lost her grip on her baby..........I can't say any more. This was in the news.

I was initially hesitant in sharing this with you but I thought I would simply because there is a much larger picture - people in this world suffering to no fault of their own. We need to be grateful for what we have.

Love to All


  1. Dear Jonathan,
    Thank you for this and your comment at the end 'we need to be grateful for what we have'. Thank you for your amazing contribution. I have tears in my eyes as I write this. Jonathan, what can I say. I have just re-read your blog. Thank you for being there for these people.

    The tapestry of life weaves its way through time. Our family are celebrating a new little family member. My son and his wife have a new little baby girl born on Jessica's 18th birthday - May 19. She is magnificent like Jessica. As I write this I am thinking of the lady you speak of who lost her baby from her arms in the floods. Yes, we all heard about this in the news. I cannot imagine the horror of this. Life is so precious. Jonathan, you have helped the people who lost everything to feel that their lives too are precious.

    And now, in USA, there are towns being flattened by tornados and two of our Jessaholics are over there in the middle of it with Janell. I am thinking of the poor people in USA and the huge clean up ahead for them. As I write this the tornados continue over there.

    Jonathan, thank you again.
    With love,

  2. Congratulations Ailsa !

    And what an interesting and colourful tapestry it is, to be cherished always.

    Thank you for your kind words. I believe there is now significant improvement in QLD resulting from a unified push by the affected communities to get the government to fast track disbursement of relief funds.

    All four families are now well on their way to reconstructing their homes or building new ones. I am in weekly contact with them and its so heartening to see how strong these people are when they talk about the progress being made. The lady who lost her husband recently has almost completed reconstruction of her home which was one of the worst I had seen and will be moving back in two weeks time.

    I'll make another trip up to QLD later this year with my wife and girls and go visit each of these families again. I feel privileged to have met them and gained their friendship. These people are extraordinarily courageous.

    I keep praying for the people of Oklahoma and Missouri and hope that their governments act swiftly to give them some relief.

    Thanks again for your touching words

    Love and Hugs

  3. Jonathon,

    You’re a giant among us. Your compassion and generosity is beyond words. I think all of us have said many times “if I could only do something to help,” and you just did it. Your story should be spread by way of the media to possibly motivate others to do as much as they can to help, although because of your modesty it probably won’t make it in the news. I don’t know what else to say other that a sincere, heartfelt thank you on behalf of those who you helped.

    After visiting with Faye and Max for a couple of days at my house, I dropped them off at the airport in Seattle on Tuesday morning so they could travel to Norman, Oklahoma to visit Janell and her family. Shortly after I got home from the airport, I received a phone call from Bill in Georgia asking me if I was watching the Weather Channel. I tuned in to see that a tornado was traveling toward Norman, Oklahoma. It wasn’t until late Monday night that I received good news from Janell that I was able to forward to Faye and Max’s daughters who had emailed me their concerns. Luckily the tornado just missed Janell and somehow Faye and Max were able to make it to her house. On Wednesday, Janell, Faye and Max drove to Missouri by way of the town of Joplin which took a direct hit of the tornado leaving at least 125 dead and 900 injured. The list of missing in Joplin has now been reduced from 1500 to 232. Max said in an email last night that much of the town has been totally destroyed. What an amazing experience that must have been for Faye and Max who came to the US for a pleasant trip. I’m sure that we will hear much more from them soon.

    I wish that there were more people who had just a small portion of the compassion that you have shown, Jonathon. Thanks for sharing your amazing, uplifting story.

    With warm regards,

  4. Hi Jonathan,
    What an extraordinary thing to do!

    I am so pleased you had the gumption to post about your kindness and friendship.

    You epitomise the essence of Jessaholism.
    I dips me lid
    ☺☺☺ Magpie ☺☺☺

  5. Dear Jonathan,

    So you DID it!
    Excellent! ... and my gratitude to you for "paying it forward".

    Amazing things can happen when we allow God to work through us.
    Allow ourselves to be an instrument of his peace.

    Bless you and thank you, Jonathan!

    BIG ((((hug))))
    Soldier's Mum xxx

  6. Dear Jonathan!

    What a wonderful, kind, human being you are!!! Not only did you empathize with what these victims were going through . . . you followed through by acting on those thoughts . . making an enormous difference in their lives!

    While they were, physically, survivors, who knows how deeply despondent and depressed they must have been. Once the shock wears off, and the reality sets in, most become almost paralyzed by the feeling of loss and not knowing where to begin to pick up the pieces and try to regain their lives. Often this has such traumatic feelings suffered by each person in the family. Parents, overwhelmed by the feeling that they should be able to protect and help their family, and, the children, needing to have some sense of security and hope, to replace the fear and loss they too have suffered. Someone to tell them that "everything's going to be all right!"

    So, just your presence there, Jonathan, would have been such an encouragement and source of support to each one of the members of these unfortunate families, You brought them hope, and, I'm sure restored their belief in their fellow man . . . and that all was not lost!! And, I venture to say that they will be likely to "pay forward" your kindness and go on to help others in the future when they see the need!!

    Yes, they are strong . . . but, they are because you made them strong . . . they are making progress because you helped them take some of those first steps toward restoring and replacing what was lost! Mostly, you gave them back their dignity, their self-respect, just by showing how much you cared, and, which they gained when you gave them the tools to help rebuild their lives!!

    I think many have come to expect help from governments, and religious groups, and communities, but they must be most thankful for an individual who comes forward with more than promises . . . such as you did!!!

    You say you feel privileged to have gained their friendship . . . well that is the mark of a humble man . . . and we truly love you for that quality! But, just think, too, how privileged they must be to have you come into their lives and make such a difference . . . and, that you continue to show that concern and love you have for them!!!

    We are grateful, for all that we have . . . but, grateful, too, for the important lessons you have shared . . . the reminder "to do unto others" , and, that it is "more blessed to give than to receive" . . . and, we have to be grateful, also, just to know you!!

    You certainly will be blessed, and rewarded, by your Heavenly Father, Jonathan, for your humility and goodness!!

    Let me add my "BIG ((((hug))))" to Soldier's Mum's!!

    Carol Florida U.S.A.

  7. Thanks All for your beautiful words.

    Honestly, I haven't even touched the tip of the iceberg. I pose this question to all of you : Wouldn't you help a person across a street? I know for a fact that all of you would. What I did was exactly the same thing. Really, its no different.

    This (our Jessaholics group) is what its all about. The sense of community, mutual respect and love that has grown amongst us is truly amazing. Even though some of us have not met our great friends across the pond, we have this strong bond.

    Coming back to these families in QLD, yes they were all quite depressed but you could see in their eyes that hope and faith was not lost. I felt really proud of all of them for not losing faith.

    By the way, I am one of thousands of private citizens who took it upon themselves to help these people. Hundreds of volunteers sacrificed their lives to go house to house and volunteer to clean up, rebuild and prove to these wonderful people that they were not alone. I am proud of all of these people. I am but a very tiny part of this individual effort.

    Big hugs to all


  8. Hi Jonathan,

    What on Earth can I say that all these articulate people have not said already?

    I am in awe of your generosity (have been since the day we met), your compassion and your sheer oomph in acting upon your ideals.

    I read your post word for word several times and it made me gasp for breath. This world desperately needs more people of your nature.

    Thankyou also for your email link outlining Mike Perham's aviation adventure. Here is another youg ambassador in the ilk of our very own Jessica. I wish you safe and fun-filled travels if you manage to fly out to join Mike on his departure.

    Ailsa, I'm so thrilled to hear of the birth of your baby grand-daughter. This is an exquisite event in the life of a Nana..and you are is indeed very precious.

    Fancy Faye and Max getting caught up in the tornadoes in OK! After being heartily welcomed by Mark, their visit with Janell must have been terrifying (not because of Janell herself)! haha, but just the thought of those monsterous storms terrifies me. They are going to have some spell-binding stories to tell when they arrive home, which calls for the NEXT Jessaholic luncheon! Let's keep our fingers crossed that we can lure some inter-staters again..any takers? Annie, you would just love it down here in winter yes?

    Warm greetings to everyone else you know Pete and I are heading to Canada next Sunday and then to America in the back of Mark's ute. We also have visits arranged with Janell, Carol, Bill and possibly Richard and their spouses which is just so amazing.

    Now all the planning is finished we are very excited, and will keep you all posted on our travels.


  9. Ditto what everyone else has said Jonathan, it’s just wonderful what you did. You saw the need, you went in alone and did the job - that is compassion at work.

    Winter in Victoria Collette, thanks for the invite but hmmmmm, I may have to think about that one a bit. You are going to have such an incredible time in the U.S. and Canada, I can't wait for the photos and to hear all about it.

    Cheers everyone,

  10. Jonathan,

    In a somewhat rash and hasty moment I once termed you a true and learned gentleman.

    I am sorry, but I find I must retract that very inappropriate and inaccurate assessment of you. I have reason to think rather differently of you.

    Not only are you a true and learned gentleman, you are a deeply thoughtful, generous, caring and compassionate human being of the highest order. It is a pleasure and privilege to be one of your friends.

    Humanity is full of individuals who can see no further than their own self-interest. In delusional moments I often ponder a world where peace and order reign supreme, and poverty, greed and hunger are alien, and where the motivation to help others is innate. I suspect you may not yet have realised the full impact of just what you have done.

    To the beneficiaries of your generosity, the remembrance of the deeds of that Good Samaritan from Melbourne will be held throughout their lives in a kind of awe. But they will not keep the knowledge of that luminous act to themselves – they will share his example with family and friends, and they with theirs.

    The deeds and example of a young lady named Jessica Watson resulted in a group of like-minded souls coalescing like stardust into a glorious, radiant globe. In my wildest dreams I could never have foreseen the result of one girl’s circumnavigation. It all began with a thought, which became deed, and which grew.

    So too can the example of one stranger from Melbourne. The inspiration generated by your humble and generous act will have positive repercussions you and I can never imagine.

    In sincere and utter admiration,

  11. I am humbled, Brian. Thank you for your beautiful words, it really warms my heart.

    Yes, indeed, young Jessica has been an inspiration to us as a group and the very fact that we have "coalesced like stardust into a glorious, radiant globe" and continue to do so long after she returned safely to our shores is a testament to how cohesive we are.

    These moments shared with all of you are some of the most memorable and spiritual in my life. Every single day I read messages from someone in the group, so suffice it to say that all of you are in my thoughts every single day.

    Lately it has been Evie that I think of and pray for every morning as I wake up and every night before I put my head on my pillow.

    It is entirely my privilege and honour to be in your company.


  12. Hello everyone

    Boy, have we got some catching up to do !!

    Firstly Jonathan, what an incredible act of kindness for you to travel to Queensland and help DIRECTLY, these people that have suffered such drama in their lives that we could never even comprehend. We will never know just what a boost it would be to these people to know that someone – in Victoria – cares enough about them to do what you have done for them. It makes us a little disappointed that we contributed directly to the Flood Relief Appeal, when we hear that funds are still yet to be distributed, and Insurance Companies still reneging on their payout.

    The devastation in Joplin was just unbelievable, we have seen this on TV, but to actually drive through this area and see cars and trucks upside-down, buildings completely destroyed, and houses demolished was unreal.

    May we acknowledge the contribution you have all made to this subject, there have been just so many genuine comments that have come right from the heart, it was quite emotional reading them all.

    Love and hugs to all from Faye and Max.

    1. Hi Jessaholics far and wide!

      Long time no see! Just thought I'd drop by and see what's happening!