A difference of cultures in crisis

Helping a community in crisis

 Hope Lives Here Video from the Courier Mail, featuring another former Aussie Expat, Jodie.

On the surface, Australia and America seem to be very similar. It’s only when you really spend some time in each place, you start to see some of the differences. Eventually, you get used to them. Neither culture is right or wrong, they’re just different.

This week, watching the flood footage coming through from Australia, I am reminded of some of those differences, and some of the similarites.

People always tell me, “Texas is just like Australia, right?” and I ask, “What part?” However, when it comes to the spirit of the people, Texans really are like Australians. Much more so than other parts of the US. Maybe that’s why I like it so much here.

When Hurricane Katrina and then Rita wiped New Orleans off the map, I couldn’t understand why they didn’t rebuild. Why even now, most parts are still uninhabitable. Mississippi and Alabama were equally devastated by the hurricanes. In many areas, even more so. They were however primarily middle class towns and people there, much like the people in Australia, and got on with it and rebuilt. Meanwhile, Texas offered as much assistance to it’s neighbours in Louisiana as possible. Texas took in thousands of “refugees”; many of whom have never left. The abandoned mall near my house was turned into a shelter. (It’s now the Rackspace building) Many businesses along that street closed down because of all the theft after the “refugees” arrived. When your local Target closes because of that reason, it’s pretty dramatic.

Years later, they still do documentaries on New Orleans. How it’s still a mess. How the Govt failed them, etc. I still get people begging me for money, saying they are “Katrina Victims”. Of course, nobody does any documentaries showing the people in Alabama and Mississippi and how they’ve managed just fine.

Then I see the footage from Floods in Australia. I see neighbours, friends, strangers, people from all walks of life, lending each other a hand. They’re out cleaning up the mess, the next day. They’re helping people they don’t know. They’re cleaning the dirt and mud before it turns to toxic mold. They’re getting the stuff out on the streets, and I’m sure the govt will do a great job cleaning up those streets.

If only we could teach our cousins in Louisiana about Mateship. Because that’s what it really is. That’s what most Aussie Expats miss the most. (Besides Vegemite and Bundy Rum) It’s the ability to turn to turn to a mate and have them lend you a hand, without you having to ask.

Australia and America were founded differently. America was pioneered on a loner spirit. People rushed out and grabbed land. They had to make do by themselves. Aussie’s on the other hand worked together  to get through the hard times. That legacy has carried on through the generations.  While Americans like those at the top, those that single themselves out and make something of themselves, Aussie’s still have tall poppy syndrome and will take the “Little Aussie Battler” over the big entrepreneur anyday. Both have their plusses and minuses. If you’re looking to really make something of yourself, you’re probably better off in the US. If you’re in a flood, you’re better off in Oz…

Now many States in the US are not like Louisiana. New Orleans has a very large poor population. Many people live on welfare. They live in Section 8 housing. (Like Housing Commission)They use food stamps. They have entitlement problems. They live generation to generation on welfare and don’t look for a way out. When the Hurricane happened, they didn’t bother to get out. They expected someone else to move them. Many people blame George W. Bush for Katrina. Actually, legally he couldn’t do anything until the Governor of Louisiana asked for help. The Govenor didn’t. Eventually, GWB stepped in and superseeced that ruling and helped out. That whole thing was a mess. Then, when people did get evacuated, there was many horror stories of how people were acting. A group of Australian tourists had to be escorted out under the care of the National Guard because of threats of sexual assault against them in the dome. Red Cross workers were treated badly. “Refugees” thought they were in a hotel, and the Red Cross workers were their maids. Looters were everywhere.  When people got their $2000 cards to get food and clothing, there were reports of people using them to buy Louis Vuitton handbags or getting lap dances at strip clubs… When people were provided trailers to live in, they sued the Govt because the trailers were “toxic”.

Everything about Katrina victims showed the absolute worst of American society.  The victim mentality, the entitlement issues, the bad management.

Hopefully, with the Floods in Australia, we will continue to see the Best of people in Australia. The banding together to help each other out. The mateship. The cleanup. The massive amounts of donations. The way people just get along with it and make it better instead of sitting around waiting for someone else to do it for them.

It’s in those moments that I’m so proud to be an Australian. I wish I could be over there with my gumboots on, broom in hand, helping you clean up.

I hope that next time something big happens over here, I’ll be able to spread a little of the Aussie spirit around, and make it better, the way we would in Oz.

If you can’t be there to help out a mate with the floods in Queensland, NSW and now Victoria, help out with a cash donation instead.



Queensland Floods

Devastating flooding in QLD

Watching the flooding from afar, I wish there was more I could do.

I was born and raised in Sydney, but when I was 18, I moved to Brisbane. It’s the city that I really started to become my own person in. I was no longer an actress. It’s where I worked real jobs and went back to school. It’s where I met my husband, Matt. We both love Brisbane. I loved the laid back lifestyle. Matt loved it because it reminded him of his hometown here in Texas. We both agree that if we ever moved back to Australia, we’d want to live in Brisbane.

So now that we’re watching the devastating floods in Queensland which today are hitting Brisbane, we both feel a little bit of helplessness and wish there was more we could do to help. We know that people there are taking it all in their stride. Aussie’s are such a resilient bunch. We know they’re going to be helping each other out and making sure their mates are ok. But when you’re so far away from family and friends and all you can see is little snippets of the carnage, it’s very saddening. All I can do is get on FaceBook and check on my friends. Today however, most of Brisbane is without power, a lot of the mobile phone towers are not working, so I feel cut off. The American news is only showing the crazy snow storms that are hitting the South, which is also a big deal, as well as the tragic shooting in Arizona and its aftermath. The Aussie news says 13 people are now dead in the floods, and over 9000 homes will be flooded in Brisbane today. Water coming downstream, as well as king tides are going to create flooding worse that the 1974 flood. I see shots of the Brisbane river that look like they’re taken from Kangaroo Point, where Matt and I first lived together, and I can’t believe how high it’s getting. I can’t imagine what it’s going to look like in a few more hours.

I’m currently relying on watching little videos on the net. Unfortunately, some sites like to geoblock their videos. Thankfully, the ABC is not geoblocking right now, so all the Aussie Expats across the world can see what’s going on back home.  news.com.au has been a great source. ninemsn.com.au never geoblocks and is also very helpful. If you’re another expat trying to see what’s going on, these are the sites I’ve found most helpful.

Raising funds for those affected by QLD flooding.

Unfortunately, unlike third world countries like Haiti who get billions of dollars raised for the relief effort from all over the world, it’s unlikely those affected by flooding in Queensland will be offered the same. Australians have been extremely generous. They’ve already raised $30 million dollars just through the Flood Relief Appeal on televison.  However, I’m sure it’s not going to be enough. If you’re wondering how to help out, but don’t want to get scammed, here’s how to help.

If you’re in Australia, call 1800 219 028

Donations can be made in person at:
• Commonwealth Bank
• Westpac
• Suncorp
• St.George Bank
• Bank SA (Bank of South Australia)
• Australian Central Credit Union
• Savings & Loans Credit Union
• Coles supermarket

If you’re overseas like me and want to help,

Donate by internet banking:

The account details for donations are:
Account Name: Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal
BSB: 064 013
Account number: 1000 6800
SWIFT code for international donations: CTBAAU2S

Once your transaction is complete, you should record the receipt number for your transaction. If you do not receive a receipt number, contact your financial institution.

If you would like a receipt for tax purposes, please forward a request, with proof of donation to:

Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal
C/O Department of the Premier and Cabinet
PO Box 15185
City East QLD 4002

 Donate by mail

You can post a cheque donation – please do not send cash.

Cheques should be made payable to:
The Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal
ABN: 69 689 161 916

Cheques should be posted to:
Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal
C/O Department of the Premier and Cabinet
PO Box 15185
City East QLD 4002