Flood Crisis in Australia Hits Close to Home for Indy's Tully Bevilaqua
|Australia native Tully Bevilaqua talks about the country's efforts to raise relief funds for victims of the flood|
Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images
Weeks of flooding throughout Queensland and Victoria, Australia has wrecked havoc throughout the eastern part of the country. Some of the latest reports suggest other areas should consider preparing for the worst, as sandbags and high ground seem to be the only way to slow down, or potentially avoid, damage from the rising waters.
For Australia native and Indiana Fever star Tully Bevilaqua, the flood is easily one of the worst catastrophes to hit the area in recent memory, save for the bushfires of 2009 that ripped through the dry landscape of Australia, burning acres upon acres of terrain and claiming nearly 200 victims.
Flooding isn’t entirely foreign to the region, although the severity does tend to vary. Bevilaqua herself was affected by it at a young age, although nowhere near the extent of the 2011 flood.
“When I lived in the country here as a kid growing up, we had two floods that had hit our small town and they weren’t as major as they’ve had in the east,” said Bevilaqua. “I can just imagine the repairs and the cleaning up that they have to go through given the amount that we did with the floods in the country.”
To put it into perspective, Bevilaqua said the media is reporting the area affected by flooding in Queensland is essentially the size of Texas. Other reports have suggested the affected area is bigger than France and Germany combined. Regardless of the visualization applied to the crisis, there’s no question that millions are affected by this tragedy.
In an effort to raise awareness and funds for the victims of the flood, most sporting events throughout the country are holding collections. During Tully’s WNBA offseason games in Perth, located on the complete other side of the country impacted the most by flooding, buckets are passed around to collect loose change and donations. Cricket matches remain a significant point for fundraising as well, as matches draw upwards of over 30,000 fans. Additionally, benefit concerts are being organized throughout the country. Even as Tully chatted with WNBA.com, she was watching the Australia Open and made note of the fact that fundraising information remained a topic at the early stages of the tournament and mentions of donations continued throughout.
“With all of the high-profile past and present players taking place, they did a celebrity event raising funds,” she said. “Pretty much you’ll find everywhere around Australia there’s fundraising going all for all of the victims.”
While the tragedy obviously hits close to home for many native Australians, such as the Portland Trail Blazers' Patty Mills, international athletes like cyclist Lance Armstrong facilitated a fundraiser for the victims as well, raising upwards of $124,000 US.
But donations throughout the country go beyond monetary sums, as volunteers have flocked from all over in an effort to lend a hand wherever it is needed by any means necessary.
“What was amazing is the number of people who have actually flown over there in terms of the clean-up process,” said Bevilaqua. “They showed some footage on the news one time and there was a line of volunteers about a mile long just waiting to sign up with brooms, buckets and rakes in hand that they brought themselves.”
The good news is that the flood levels have started to subside in certain areas of the country, Bevilaqua said. The bad news, as mentioned before, is that other areas are preparing for the impending rush of water. Even for those experiencing some reprieve, they cannot return to their homes due to road closures and concerns for hygiene and disease in the areas.
Australia news organizations continue to monitor the national crisis, admittedly toning it down a bit from the initial 24/7 coverage. Those interested in learning more or making donations to the flood relief can find information via the Queensland government’s official flood relief page.