Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Wild Storms Hit SE Queensland

On Sunday November 16, after a hot humid day, a wild storm struck the Gold Coast and worked it's way north through Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. News reports started coming in about 3pm and by 4pm the sky above me was getting rather dark.
I checked the Bureau of Meteorology web site Radar images and decided that the storm would pass nearby but miss me. In a way I was right the storm missed my place. I was entertained for about an hour with a huge thunder and lightning display and torrential rain. I have seen some pretty wild weather in my time and this was right up there with the best of them. At times the lightning was so close there was no discernible gap before the thunder. And it was loud. Despite cleaning my gutters recently, they simply could not clear the water away fast enough so experienced some overflow.
I watched the storm from the shelter of my balcony until the wind sprang up and blew the rain horizontally and I got soaked. The next day there was a lot of leaf and bark litter in the streets but no serious damage. That was when the news reports started to tell about the devastation at a nearby location called "The Gap". The Gap is about 4 km from my place and I have friends who live at the far end about 8km away.
Despite seeing pictures on TV and the internet and hearing the various news reports it didn't really sink in until today what incredible damage had actually occurred. This morning Laurie, the friend who lives at the Gap with his wife, called me up and asked me to go out and see his wife and inform her that she could not drink tap water as it was contaminated. With no power, no phones, no radio, no TV they had been cut off from the world and did not know that their water supply was potentially contaminated. Laurie only found this when he got to work and asked me to pass on the message.
I loaded the car up with drinking water, Gas (for the BBQ) and headed out. It was totally awe inspiring the amount of destruction. The TV news does not show the depth of the devastation. There were huge numbers of trucks carting debris away and dozens of people with chain saws working on trees to make them safe or chop them up to take away. Emergency services all over the place, including the army who have been asked to assist in the clean up. Still no power out that way. Cars with crushed roofs. Houses that looked like the roofs had collapsed or gutters overflowed causing huge internal damage. Many trees still standing but in various states of damage with limbs ripped off or the trunks split apart. The awesome power of nature was on display. It was a sobering viewing and probably helps me understand more what the reality is when I see other disasters on TV. I guess that in 9 months time there will be a baby boom in that area, no power, no TV, as soon as it gets dark there is nothing much else to do but go to bed.

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