|Nerida Tupas, flood survivor and vintage collector outside Made Creative Space, Toowoomba|
While tragic stories of loved ones lost abound, including John Tyson's loss of his son and wife as flash flooding swept up the family car at the intersection of James and Kitchener Streets in Toowoomba, Nerida Tupas recalls the day of the floods with gratefulness.
On January 10, 2011, Nerida was in the Victoria Street library with her then six-year-old son when flash flooding consumed the township's CBD. Seeing the water rising, she fled across the road to retrieve her car, at which time shin-deep water was already covering the road. "He, of course, thought it was amazing and exciting," she says of her son.
Desperately trying to navigate her way out of town, she witnessed a car float away in front of her before doing a U-turn and making her escape, picking up her other son from kindergarten on the way home. "It wasn't until the kids were in bed that I realised the enormity of the situation and started crying," she says. "We went through all the worst bits and we just missed them."
While in the aftermath she lost her job at Vacy Hall guesthouse, and the business housing some of her vintage wares, Maison D'Art on Margaret Street, was submerged in water, the floods were the catalyst for Nerida opening her own shop and creative space, which is currently housed in a building on Margaret Street (second floor!).
"I had my vintage stuff on Facebook (Nerida’s Little Shop of Oldfangled Beauties) and had a few things stocked at Maison D’Art with Julia, but I thought I needed to keep my job," she says. "Then it flooded, and I lost my job, and I thought, ‘Okay, I have nothing to lose now, I might as well go for it'."
After helping Julia clear her shop of sludge, Nerida set about finding an appropriate space for her collections, including vintage suitcases, shoes and homewares, which are currently retailed through Market to Market, and will soon relocate to creative hub TheGRID hybrid arts collective.
"I had some beautiful old suitcases and sold them within a week at Market to Market," she says. "It's been an amazing year. It’s ironic because this time last year I was cleaning up an old space and starting a new one, and now I'm doing the same again."
Girl With a Satchel