Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Flood Story

Well, it has been busy times here with the floods, being cut off at home, with DinnerDad stranded on the other side of the raging waters, and other such dramatic happenings.  Tuesday, we knew it was going to get pretty bad, DinnerDad had gone to Sydney, and had to try to get back to us before we were cut off completely.  The Weir had gone a couple of days before, for the first time in 20 years, and I was worried about Moggill road and Mt Crosby Road going and turning us into an island!

Sure enough, before DinnerDad could reach us from the airport, round 3pm, Kholo Creek at Mt Crosby Road was completely flooded, and when he reached the nurseries at Moggill Road, the road was out.  He managed to walk across, then found out about Kholo Creek so walked back again! He went over to his brother and sister-in-laws at Camp Hill and made it there safely, where he stayed for the duration, with power and interwebs and television!

Meanwhile, Lolly and I were stuck!  We still had power on the Tuesday, so kept in touch and up to date online, so that first night wasn’t too bad.  That afternoon, I drove down to the pharmacy to fill a script for me and then popped to the local shop for dog food (thankfully they had some, as we were totally out!).  I picked up some popcorn and snacks to distract Lolly, as well as coffee and sugar as we were low.  We didn’t really need more food, so I didn’t get anything substantial other than for the dogs.  We drove past the golf course to have a look just before the water went over the road!  Here is a classic flood shot through the car windows of the water about to go over the road at Tanderra Way.

Flooding across the golf course, about to cover the road.
The kid’s mum, W, drove over to pick up our last 3 Epilim tablets for Snail, we were worried that she didn’t have any more.  It kept raining.  I went to bed feeling lonely and sad for everyone in Ipswich and Brisbane and very worried.

We lost power overnight.  W dropped by to let us know she was going down to the pharmacy for Snail’s meds, and that Tanderra Way and parts of College Road were out with flood water. 

Lolly and I packed ourselves a picnic of strawberries and biccies and went for an explore to see the water.  It was sunny and fine, really hot, actually.  Surreal weather to see such flooding.  We drove down to Kholo Creek, parking way up just before the peak of the main hill, and we had to walk all the way down (I really should have taken the stroller, it was very hot and muggy and a LONG way down).  

Lolly looking down the big hill as we walk towards the floodwaters.

Normally this "lake" is just forest, you can’t even see the water at all. I can't really express how completely strange it was to see all the brown flood water there.  It was quite literally, jaw-dropping.

Strange "lake" - Mt Crosby Road.

Then, alarmingly close, a few hundred metres before you even get to the bridge over Kholo Creek, the floodwater over the road.  

Floodwater on Mt Crosby Road at Kholo Creek.

This is the last flood marker on that road, showing the height of the water, nearly 21 metres.  Just unbelievable.

20.7 metres of floodwater at Kholo Creek, Mt Crosby Road.

I wish I could be more eloquent about what it was like there, with the road I drive everyday disappearing into the brown water.  The water seemed quite still and peaceful.  It was a strange atmosphere down there, all the other watchers coming down in small groups from the top of the hill in the sunny hot weather to look at such an amazing and sobering flood.  

Lolly contemplates the floodwater.

Guardrail disappearing into the flood, Mt Crosby Road.
Lolly was quite taken with a dog we saw there:

A dog!!!

She did pretty well walking up the giant hill, though I did have to carry her a fair bit (!!).  And I got very sunburnt!  Lolly was fine, but my sunscreen must have evaporated.

We went down to the Emergency Centre at the local school to see what we could do. It was deserted but for three poor men who were working in the area and got stuck!  One of them was from Wynnum!  They were pretty bored by now.  At that stage nothing else was really organised. I promised to come back later with some magazines.  

Lolly and I then walked down to Colleges Crossing, that was surreal, you can see here that you can see the flood straight ahead on the road!  Normally, it is far away, several hundred metres round the corner and down the hill. 

Floodwater, Colleges Crossing, Mt Crosby Road.  For those who live there, I took this from the School, normally you can't see any water from here at all! 

Floodway at Colleges Crossing.  The sign says it all.

 On the way back up to the car, I noticed the fire rating sign outside the fire station.  It was blank.  

We went home to pick up some magazines and toiletry stuff for the emergency centre, dropped that off, then went to the weir to see the flood there.  Just wow.  Here is the view as you come down the hill, normally you wouldn’t even see the water from here. 

The Weir, Mt Crosby.

Heading down the hill to the Weir, Mt Crosby.

Floodwater up to the Water Treatment Plant, at the Weir, Mt Crosby.

Where is the rest of the road?  At the Weir, Mt Crosby.

 This shot shows it at the maximum, it was nearly 25 metres. 

Just under 25 metres of floodwater, the Weir, Mt Crosby.

 The flow here was terrifying.  I wonder what will be left of the weir afterwards?

Flow of floodwater at the Weir, Mt Crosby.

I don't have any more pictures, as when we were at the Weir, my camera stopped working.  I opened it up the next day and it has mould on the mirrors and in the lens :(  My wonderful camera, a flood victim!   

Anyway, we ran into a friend of Lolly’s and her dad.  My friend, the lovely C, came over that evening and saved our freezer food.  They still had power, and never lost it, we think they are on the same grid as the Water Treatment Plant.  Lolly flaked asleep and woke up at 9.30, then partied on til 1am, yikes!  It was hot, we watched kids telly on the iPad, and had candles.  It felt like a long night, without our family, especially DinnerDad.  We had to wrestle with an giant spider, too, which was no fun (I am NOT a fan!). 

The dog and cat woke us up at 7am (sigh) so we pottered and washed all the dishes out of the dishwasher (still no power) then went over to see C and family.  We charged up all our things there (thank you thank you!) and got some phone messages through.  The phone reception was terrible throughout, messages wouldn’t go through or arrive, and most phones were hard to reach even if you had reception.  It really made for a sense of isolation.  Having the news on at C’s was a chance to catch up on what had happened, as I hadn’t seen anything of Brisbane at all.  

DinnerDad was trying to get back, but the water was still too high : (  After hanging out at C’s for ages and Lolly and J having a great play, Lolly and I went to check on the emergency centre, and then down to check on W and the kids.  Still no Epilim, so I drove to the pharmacy, but there was no news on when it was coming.  Tanderra Way and College Road had already cleared by then, so at least it was easy to get around. 

We went home for a little break, and after a while had to make a mercy trip to try to save our three fish, Fish One, Fish Two, and Snowflake, who were all lying on their sides gasping at the air at the top of the water in our tank.  Poor things!  With no filter, it had got a little hard for them in there.  I managed to scoop them into a Tupperware container using a bowl (fun) while Lolly "helped".  We hurried back to C’s place to pour the three of ‘em (all huge) into C’s outdoor pond, where they looked relieved!  Our turtle (Squirtle) was, of course, fine – they breathe air ;)

I was feeling down and sad, and finding the late dark nights and spider attacks a bit much all alone, so lovely C and W asked me to stay for dinner, the girls had a great time, and I got to sit with lights on, catch the news, and charge the computer some more.  I really can't thank their family enough for how wonderful they were to Lolly and I during all this.  

Lolly and I headed home round 9pm, only to discover our dog Pippin was missing!!  I was so worried, but at that hour, no power, and a tired toddler, there was not much I could do.  I checked our yard, and called her, thought I could hear her barking, but wasn't sure, so had to leave it at that.  We went to bed relatively early, slept for ages after another big, stressful day, though I was up listening for Pippin more than once.

First thing in the morning, we got ready and went off to search for Pippin.  I knew that if she didn’t come home, she was either hurt, or worse :(, or (more hopefully) shut in a neighbours yard for safekeeping.  I was banking on the latter.  I went next door to the neighbours we know, and F knew all about it, apparently our other neighbours were worried and checked the house, I wasn’t home, and they were worried that Pippin was all alone or that something had happened to me, so they rescued her back to their place.  Which was lovely (though I do wish they’d left a note to spare me the search for a dead dog in the outside pond and yard).  I drove over and cleared it up, but left Pip with her two doggie friends while I was out for the day.  Phew!

I had managed to talk to DinnerDad the afternoon before, and after talking to F our neighbour, she told me her husband had walked over Kholo Creek that morning, through the mud, and that it was being opened that afternoon!!  So I drove up the hill to get a signal and called DD to let him know.  He’d heard the same and was off to shop for supplies and to come back over! 

We went down to see the kids, still no meds!!  I took W’s computer and phone over to C’s to charge them, via the emergency centre to drop off some vegies and fruit we had here, and more toiletries, and put my name down for a shift there on Saturday.  At C’s we charged, chatted, and waited to hear from DinnerDad.  After all was charged, Lolly and I loaded up and went to call him, he was down at W’s house already!  So we hurried down and hooray!!  To say it was nice to see him is understating it a little.  xx

He ducked out to get the meds for Snail (which had finally arrived), though he’d bought some with him as well.  Then we packed up the kids and went home together!!

We all walked over to get Pippin, then hung out and caught up.  After an hour or so, the power came back on!  So nothing but good news for our little family.  We had hamburgers fresh from DDs supply run, and air conditioning for bed!  I did think that I should perhaps make DinnerDad sit in a dark room with a 2 year old, and yell garbled messages at unpredictable intervals at him for three days so he could really experience it all, but perhaps that wasn’t the best idea…

Saturday cleaned mould, I took a run to the emergency centre (they were slowly closing up and didn’t need me, we took some bread as they had too much), played, and dealt with Snail’s many many seizures from having no medication for three days.  :(  We got our phone back, and the reception on the mobile came back, so I messaged a lot of people , we hooked up a computer to the mobile and got a bit of internet for updates and such.  Took stock of food, played with the kids, called my Mum (who has a stomach bug, but is otherwise okay).  Sunday was more of the same, and today we went out foraging for supplies.

It has been such a strange experience, worrying, stressful, isolating, it makes us feel closer to the possibility of all of what we have just disappearing.  How reliant we are on electricity and communication, and how much we assume that our loved ones are coming home each night without problems via clear roads.  It was so strange to be stuck somewhere in an age where we feel subconsciously that we can go anywhere.  Mobile phones hardly worked, the lines of people parked up high to get reception, if you could get it, were surreal.  Walking down to see the waters, people doing what they could to help out, a feeling of being stuck together, and sharing something. 

Electricity is so ingrained, I would open the storeroom doors and switch the light on to get batteries for the torch, though the power had been off for days.  Everything stops working, computers, phones, iPads, television, hot water, lights, air conditioning, microwaves.  We are so reliant on all that.  DinnerDad and I didn't even have a regular phone anymore, so even if the lines were up, I couldn't call as our phone is electric.  Luckily I am a little bit of a planner, so buy things in bulk, like batteries and candles.  Being cut off from restocking food was a strange feeling.  I kept remembering that saying that civilisation is only three meals away from revolution/barbarism.  :p

While the response to the flood has been mostly wonderful, I feel that the television coverage should have had more local content, with scrolling messages telling locals what was needed, where the local emergency centres were, when power might be back (as some areas, like ours, had some power and could see the news).  Even when the roads were clearing, we had no real information about it, when to expect it, when people could get in and out.  This was known information, and news coverage needs to evolve to get this information out.  We had some areas with power, but no internet connection really, no central point of information letting those with radios or televisions know what was happening, especially after a day or so of the worst. Something like what they do at election time would be more useful than generic coverage, get local information to those who can recieve and spread it among communities.  That would be far more useful.

It was also hard to understand why Snail's meds took so long to come.  They knew about it first thing Wednesday, but nothing come until late Friday afternoon!  DinnerDad had driven in with meds (the wrong strength as that’s what his brother had) before then!  How can that be?  Now we’ve had a full 24 hours of seizures as she had no meds for that time.

Now, I know there has been some amazing things done, our emergency centre was totally locally organised and well stocked, everyone who evacuated was billeted and fed and cared for, they were doing meals and whatever they could.  Meds were going from here to Bellbowrie, which is far worse off than us (we lived there for some years, so feel awful about what happened there).  So we’re not sure what happened with Snail's medication.  I can see why some felt that our area was neglected.

So, overall, it was a strange and surreal experience.  I am so lucky that we were all safe and mostly dry, and knew that our other loved ones were the same.  We knew our house was safe, and our kids were safe.  That’s all that matters. Love to all affected, and strength to everyone rebuilding.

1 comment:

Stacey said...

Totally agree about the information stuff... we had to ration our radio time as I had no spare batteries so we ended up getting all our info from people texting me. Also, the ingrained thing... about an hour after our power came back on I went to make myself a tea... and I was in "boil water on the stove" mode, forgetting that we had electricity! Definitely a crazy and surreal experience.