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The 14th of December in the wet tropics was like any other average day, the sweltering hot sun was felt on the faces, shoulders and legs of the volunteers at MEF as they carried out their daily tasks. I had just finished up with the fruit for elephants store as it had started to rain, nothing out of the ordinary. I had been at MEF for nearly three weeks and an afternoon drizzle was more than expected. But I guess today was a bit more than a drizzle. Jade and I had started decorating the small Christmas tree in the office when I noticed all the staff where standing out in the museum with their eyes widely focused on one continuously moving object, as if they’d miss it if they were to look away. It was the river, but it wasn’t your typical river now, the one where you would go down and bathe the elephants in its peaceful currents. No, far from it, it was a fast flowing, loud moving body of water. The torrential downpour that occurred within less than an hour had created a scene only seen nearly a decade ago in 2008. MEF was flooding! There was a mad rush to save items from the mahouts shelter. The entire floor of the mahout shelter was covered in at least 2 foot or even more of water, the river well and truly had burst its banks, water had reached the tops of the stairs of the museum, our eco gardens was now just part of the river and the bridge even had water from the river crawling on it. MEF volunteers, ground keepers, mahouts and guides were making the made dash to save everything and anything that might be swept by these savage waters. The whole thing was a world wind to be honest. Everyone drenched, in their raincoats or holding up umbrellas. The madness of people scattering about finally ended. Only the sound of the rushing river go past and the pelting raindrops. All we could do was watch from either end of the bridge. The next day of course, it was all hands on deck. It reminded me somewhat of the devastating floods that occurred in Brisbane a couple years ago. The sloppy and slimy residue that the dwindling waters had left was now on the surface of most things at MEF.

Article by volunteer Kavini Wijesooriya.


MEF Garden flooded.
Flood reached ground level.