To My Good Friends Down Under,
It is with alarm and sadness that I followed, first the great floods and then a cyclone of historical proportion in Queensland.
It seemed that this natural onslaught would never end. I watched with disbelief the graphic videos of the houses being swept away by the floods and, not long after, houses being blown away by the cyclone.
I heard names like Toowoomba, Tully, Mission Beach and Brisbane. These were all places where I had the privilege of visiting and speaking at with adults, with your children, your firefighters, and your community. They were very precious moments to me and it didn’t take me long to love Australia and its people.
I had the pleasure of seeing much of your beautiful country from Nowra down the south coast of NSW to the Blue Mountains and Newcastle; to Perth and saving the best for last, – Queensland. The thing that amazed me most was the people. You are kind and compassionate and where did you get that sense of humor! At the same time you are tough, independent and resilient people. This I have seen again and again, not only in you but in your children also. They have been taught well. It seems that now all of these virtues will be tested as you grieve your losses and move forward with rebuilding your communities and your lives.
I too have been in this position, standing at the base of the fallen Twin Towers in New York City – sad beyond belief. The scope of the destruction was so great we didn’t know where to start. But we did start. We started with whatever tools we had and did whatever we could. And we did this day after day after day. And then 9 months later, the recovery was complete.
Today the new tower can be seen once again rising above the New York skyline. It was done with the same traits of character that symbolize the Australian people, toughness, resilience and independence. The destruction you face today is many times what we faced in New York. I believe that you will prevail and be stronger for it. It is tragic and heart breaking, but you will come out on the other side of this.
I have always spoken of the sense of spirituality that permeated ground zero as we picked up the pieces. There was no doubt that God was alive and well on that ravaged pile. He was alive in the volunteers and the workers. He was alive in the compassion and love that filled the site. He was alive in giving us the strength to move forward.
And now, I know God is with you as you move forward to right that which has been turned upside down; to grieve for those who have been lost to once again find peace and solace in your home. Yes, I know you can do it, with God by your side and courage in your heart and a few prayers from your friends across the great Pacific Ocean. You can do it.
Chief Dan Daly
FDNY Battalion Chief – Retired
New York USA