Posts Tagged ‘Brisbane’

Brisbane storm – some emails

December 4, 2014

Dear Ross
Sounds like a disaster movie! I’m just reading about the storm this morning and really hoping that your roof stayed on and that none of you was out in it. Would love a reassuring email if you have a moment.
Love from Jill

Nov 30 (4 days ago)
to me

Hi Jill

Wow, that really was some storm! We are fine, no damage to selves or property, but it was a somewhat harrowing experience. I was stuck in a train, fortunately in the subterranean station at Toowong, where there was no indication of wild weather. The train was stalled due to lack of power (and, as we later discovered, due to a house having blown onto the tracks), so I launched forth in search of a bus. When I climbed to ground-level, I was met by the most ferocious wind and rain I have ever seen, including, I think, the Chennai typhoon of 1987. The rain was such that to venture into it would have been like swimming underwater. There was absolutely no prospect of vehicular traffic, so I returned to the comfort of my train and my Kindle.
Vanee had a tougher time of it, because she decided to make a run for home in the car. She was caught in the thick of it, but luckily the car stood up to the hail, so all she had was a frightening experience without any real incident.
Our former stamping ground of Yeerongpilly, Fairfield etc looks like a battle ground. The ground is strewn with shattered trees (and I mean shattered), and houses have grown canvas carbuncles where there used to be rooves. If you want your window fixed, you have to wait until next year. I hear there was one fatality, but I don’t know any details of that.
Our mother was fine throughout the storm. Delphi Court with its solid masonry is one very a strong structure. And the up-side of that is, she feels vindicated in her claim that she should have jetted off to somewhere (anywhere) to escape all this devastation that the comet is causing. The comet puts pressure on the atmosphere, you see.
Unfortunately the Courier Mail assures us that we can expect a similar weather-event as early as this week. The upside of THIS is that I feel vindicated in my claim that we should all move to Tasmania now in order to beat the rush. (No rush as yet, but wait til news of the comet gets out. I should tell Mum to keep mum.)

Astronomically yours,
Thank you for that marvellous update. I’m so glad you are all ok. (I had an immediate response from mum so I knew you were safe but none of the details.) May I blog your finely-tuned prose? Everyone in the family here will want to know about it.
We are promised a ‘snow event’ later in the week. Or maybe later in the month.  I wasn’t paying attention.
Isn’t it cold in Tassy?
Lots of love
Dec 1 (3 days ago)
to me
Blog away! And yes, Tassie is cold in winter, but not as cold as NZ. And in Tassie, the ground doesn’t shake, housing is cheap and the locals speak English. (Not what the English call English, of course.) But our children and friends live in Brisbane … (I mention NZ because it is the only viable antipodean alternative to Tassie.)

SNOW! Really? It’s barely winter! Brandy is an excellent anti-freeze. (No, I don’t mean for the car.)

Speaking of cars, our venerable Toyota developed a minor but seemingly unfixable fault, so I sold it for $150. Boy, did I see them coming. Panic-struck, I set off to buy a cute little Honda Jazz, but it was just too twee for a bloke. With one toe I could simultaneously apply throttle, brake and clutch, while changing gears with the passenger’s knee. What I took to be clashing gears turned out to be a warning growl from the crusty, brilliantined car-salesman. (They all daub their hair with muck now, as if it were the 1950s.) So I accidentally bought an old Camry instead. Much too big and thirsty, but low Ks and owned by an elderly couple who only drove it to the letter-box. You have to watch the extremities, though, the steering is seemingly effected by bungie cords.

How are the dogs? And the boat? It occurs to me that one expensive survey doesn’t necessarily mean that all surveys will be expensive. Whereas vet bills! Well!

Love to all,

Sounds of the flood

January 14, 2011

Wednesday – 12/01/11
After all those days of pounding rain, we woke to a sunny, dry morning.  The news was that we had no electricity, the low-lying shopping centre down the road at Bellbowrie inundated in the night, and the river was yet to peak.  All day yesterday the house had been full of the sounds of the rolling news programmes – many repeats of the Toowoomba flash flood, and hourly repeats and updates of Anna Bligh’s news briefings.  Now, without TV or radio, there is a big silence in the house.  The frogs have stopped their rain-croaking.  The church hall has a sign out the front: ‘Flood Refuge Centre’.  At midnight last night we stood on the balcony and looked across a little valley – Kangaroo Gully Road – to lights at the primary school.  A steady clopping, like rain on a tin roof, sounded from the main road along the ridge.  There must have been twenty or thirty horses being moved to higher ground.
Helicopters move purposefully across the sky – thump thumping on their different notes.  Dave likes to spot Black Hawks, Chinooks; even a Sea King goes over.  An orange-yellow one is the RACQ emergency chopper, and a blue one says Channel 10 News.  The SES (State Emergency Service) has its own as well. 
In this strange peace, the Sunday sound of a lawnmower rises up.  A man across the road is mowing his grass.  No-one can get to work from here, or shop, and the central business district seems to have closed down.  News comes to us sparingly, in Maddy’s voice, as she summarises what comes through on her iPad.  The car radio is our main source.  The waters are supposed to reach 6.5 metres tomorrow.  Today they are at 3.5 – tomorrow, they say, is D-Day.
Dave plays the Muppet theme on the piano, and later Ross picks up his guitar.  Old fifties and sixties pop songs are his favourite – Harry Belafonte and ‘Island in the Sun’ – and some Sai Baba songs. 
Wednesday night:
We dine by candlelight, on a marvellous Thai prawn curry cooked by Varni.  The prawns are out of the freezer, still iced solid, but even so it seems sensible to eat up the seafood.  We talk about Dorothea McKellar’s poem ‘My Country’, and when it was that we first realised what it meant.   The solar-powered garden lamps are useful in the loo overnight, so that Grandon, night-waking, won’t get lost or stumble around dangerously with candles.  Typically thoughtful and inventive of Dave.  And so, an early night for all.  I find that one can read perfectly well by the light of a candle. 
We are rocketed from sleep about eleven by an unbelievably thunderous pounding roar close overhead – it feels like bombs going off at least.  The overwhelming sound has me pulling up blinds and fumbling at the door-catch in a blundering sleep-waking urgency.  It sounds like Armageddon, but it’s a helicopter landing.  It lands in a space marked out by police car headlights, over at the primary school, and from the balcony I watch figures moving to and fro in the bright lights.  Most are wearing the generic SES orange outfits.  When the chopper’s engine stills, the clip-clopping sound floats over from Moggill Road, the same as last night.  Can it really be horses two nights running?  There are big equestrian establishments down towards the ferry, and down along Prior’s Pocket Road, but it seems unlikely.  Maybe I’m just hearing some kind of distant frog.
Back to bed.  The chopper putters off soon, and fairly quietly, but leaving an enveloping stink of aviation fuel over everything.

Thursday morning early – glorious sunshine: a true Australian blue, green and gold day.  The gardens and and bush land, well watered, are as fresh as fresh.  Cicadas are buzzing quietly and the blinds click in the light breeze – an irregular, metallic sound.  The birds sound relaxed – skreeking, gurgling, twittering.  From here, the floods hardly exist, and we are marooned.  Without the voracious omnipresent images from TV and radio, they easily slip into the background.  Occasionally a helicopter passes overhead, bringing reality into focus.
Living in someone else’s house, and so competent as they are, one can’t help feeling a bit of a passenger.  Even the car radio wouldn’t work when I switched it on.  Varni is sweeping, tidying, watering pot plants around me, sitting on the sofa.  She won’t accept help.  We go to look at the flood levels – at Moggill Ferry, where one of the holding cables has broken; then at Bellbowrie shops which are well under water.  Drifts of people are out walking about with their children and their dogs, taking photos and marvelling at the power of the water.  We know that Wivenhoe Dam is releasing massive quantities down its spillways, and much of  Brisbane is going under.

Travellers Tales 1

January 11, 2011

Our plane landed into a torrential thunderstorm at Brisbane airport, too dangerous for workers to unload the baggage until the lightning eased up.  That was on Wednesday evening and since then it has continued raining heavily over south east Queensland with only occasional breaks into brighter weather.

The floods are out.  In Toowoomba a flash flood drowned several people yesterday and wrecked property.  The TV news is full of images of cars tumbling along the streets in the middle of vast crashing piles of yellow-brown water.  Today the Brisbane River has burst its banks and seems likely to inundate low-lying inner city suburbs.  The State Premier was on TV: a strong, serious woman with an impressive script.  Her short statement, clear and to the point, seemed deeply felt: she looked close to tears at one point.  There’s a primitive quality about this ferocious natural power which feels ill-assorted with a contemporary urban locale.  I can understand now that feeling that ‘it can’t happen to me’ – and indeed we are on high ground here at Moggill – but of course it can happen anywhere and to anyone.  I realise too how far I have deviated from my Australian origins as I see people here taking the dangers seriously (and that means personally), while I am still barely able to grasp that they are real, and happening just down the road.  My nephew believes that the electricity might be cut off, and was all for buying a small generator this morning.  I am sure he could have found one, too.  Others were talking about the possibility that the water supply might fail.  Perhaps we should be filling bottles with water now?  But this suggestion was defeated, not by confidence in the water supply, but by Ross’s comment that we have a large water tank filled with rain water.  Easy to boil that, at need.  At Coles supermarket in Bellbowrie just down the road, the checkout queues were reported to be two hours long, as people stocked up in case the suburb is cut off.  Ross and his family joined the crowd buying up on non-perishables: noodles and rice and so forth.

We drove down to look at the river at Moggill Ferry:

the picnic ground is totally under water and the river is running in spate


Still it rains.  Today it is heavier and more persistent than before, and the thunder is rolling louder.  We are told that there is to be a king tide tonight which will hold the floodwaters back from flowing into the sea, and so raise the water level upstream, in the city.  People are being evacuatedfrom parts of Brisbane and Ipswich.  I have tried to take photos and videos of the rain – not very successfully. 

The premier’s afternoon press conference has just referred to the floods as an ‘extreme event’ and a state of emergency has been declared.  The rivers are expected to rise much further over the next 24 to 36 hours, and clearly the situation is quite volatile, depending on rainfall in the catchment areas.

The place to stay up-to-date with all this is:


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