Tuesday, June 12, 2007

We're ok...

Well, It's been an eventful holiday weekend to say the least.

We have just lived through a natural disaster. A massive run of rain storms that has caused 100 Million dollars worth of damage and claimed the lives of 9 people.

It all started on Friday morning when we woke to heavy rain and strong winds. Some areas near us lost power from 7am because of trees falling on power lines. Rhiannon was sick so I decided to send Sian in to school on the school bus. It was the first bad choice I made that day, the second one was not putting Rhiannons soiled bedlinen in the washing machine straight away.

By 2pm the radio stations were issuing frequent urgent messages to parents to go directly to their kids schools to collect them and get them home before the big storm hit. A quick ring around of local parents and I dashed off to collect Sian and other local kids to get them home and safe. As the next couple of hours passed the rain increased and water was racing along the roads faster than it could go into the storm drains. The water levels in our back garden started to rise..and rise...and rise.

Byron and myself progressed from talking about whether the water might climb high enough to flood us to frantically talking about what we needed to do to stop it flowing in the back door. At this stage it was dark and Byron ran out into deep water and started brushing through it with a yard brush trying to make it flow around the side of the house. A storm water drain at the back of our garden burst and the water flowed down our garden like a river. It was running so deep and fast down the side of our house that it stripped all the gravel from the drainage trenches that Byron and Paul had put in last month. It was also so strong that it would have knocked Byron off his feet if he had tried to walk through it.

I was ringing friends desperate for advice on anything that we could do to stop the house flooding. Because there had not been a storm this bad in over 50 years none of our friends were any wiser that us and we soon realised that they were also flooding. To add to the drama there was now thunder and lightning all around us and Byron was knee deep in storm water. I was getting really scared.

Simon Meek said that he would come and help us when he sorted his own water problems. As he drove to our house in his 4 X 4 the water was over his bonnet. Another friend Peter that had offered to come around too tried but got turned back twice by flooded roads.
In the end the water level stopped rising and finally dropped slightly. The rain was easing and we will never know if what Byron and Simon did was futile or made the difference between our beautiful new house flooding or not.

As this drama was unfolding the radio was issuing more warnings about falling trees and asking people not to make unnecessary journeys. Then we lost power and started our marathon of no electricity, light, heat, phone or flushing toilets. We lived day to day in a cold damp house with a defrosting fridge and freezer and listening to the news on a battery operated radio as stories of flooding and fatalities unfolded.

We really got away so lightly when we look back on it. About half of our friends had their houses flooded. Anything from a minor leak into downstairs rooms right through to being thigh deep in muddy water. Almost all were without electricity for days and some still have not been reconnected. They face a massive clean up over the coming week.

Other people in the area were less lucky. A family with 3 kids, two girls and a boy, were driving along a road 50km from where we live when the road surface cracked open and their car disappeared down into the flood water. They all died. A young man died when a tree fell on his car as he was driving back from checking on his grandmother. Just another news statistic to us until we talked to Anne and Kel and found out that he is the son of their friend. A passenger in a car that stood out of the car when it got stuck in a flooded road only to be swept off his feet and dragged into a storm drain in front of the other people in the car. Police divers recovered his body yesterday.

We really are counting our blessings to be in one piece. Being through an event like this really gives you a new perspective on things.

Here are some photos that I took the morning after the worst storms.

4 comments - click here to leave your comment:

  1. Glad to hear that you are all okay. My classes have been monitoring the storm events because they are so unusual and the speed of the land reaction to the event. What is a very useful geographical tool for us is a life threatening event for others. I shall use your personal information to put some emphasis on the real life implications as we have very little over here that can lead to such devastating consequences. Glad your house remained intact (very lovely by the way) especially if you have cream carpets and sofas. Still loving the blog site and read it every Friday at 5 when I finish work and have 10 minutes before going home. Alan and I are about to finish for summer and are off to Scandinavia (mainly Sweden). Perhaps do round the world trip next year and will take in Oz!!

    Take care
    Lesley, Alan and Adam

  2. so glad to hear you're ok, I was trying to ring you with no joy, as we had seen the floods on the news here. Hope your clean up isn't too bad, so much for rainy England!!!
    Love to you all Cathy

  3. You've just survived your first tropical typhoon. Congratulations on being unscathed.

  4. So glad to hear you are all okay. Let's hope it's another 50 years before the next destructive storm!