Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cyclone Yasi: Cleaning up

Friday morning was the first day that I felt like we were truly "post-cyclone".  From Friday until Sunday, Andy and I went for lots of sight-seeing walks, ate much more (and much more richly) than we normally do to eat up everything before it went off, and spent a lot of time sitting around fanning ourselves and trying not to die from heat.

First, we cleaned up.  Except, we don't have a proper garden, so we don't really have garden tools.  So we improvised.  I swept, with a broom - the back courtyard, including the walls, which had been blasted with broken bits of leaves.  It started out like this:

And we ended up with a pile like this:

Then Andy and I moved out to the front and continued sweeping.  We swept all in front of our unit and the one next door, and then went down to #5 and #6, where some older women live.  We opted not to clean in front of the two middle units, because they are occupied by able-bodied young people like us, who can clean up themselves!  The front went from this:

To this:

We also helped ourselves to some pawpaws from the leaning pawpaw tree down at the other end of our unit block.

Then we walked up to Aplin's Weir along the bike path, and back through the suburbs.  I got a sunburn, and blisters, but the damage to the vegetation and houses along the river was much worse than my minor suffering.






We walked past Rising Sun Honda, where people were lined up out the door for generators.

Our neighbours spent a few days having a go at the tree across the road with axes.  Someone came along with a chain saw, to everyone's relief, and then some other neighbours used their truck to pull the still-huge tree pieces off the road.

Later, someone with a bobcat came and cleared further, so our street was once again passable (and it wasn't even an hour before we had hoons coming through!).

A different walk in another direction looked much the same - trees down, a few on houses, and massive piles of vegetation.



On Sunday we had to go in to the uni so I could pick up material I needed to teach the next day up in Cairns, and we got a bit of a broader view of the cyclone damage.

Annandale had loads of uprooted trees.

The uni didn't get off lightly either.



An evening walk on Sunday night was incredibly frustrating -- a kilometre or so from our house, we noticed lots of lights on.  As we returned home, we got very hopeful.  Then, two streets before ours, it got dark again.  And stayed dark, until one street beyond ours.  So, an area of about 2 or 3 blocks was without power, and we were in it.  The worst part was that our very street had electricity on, just 30 metres away from us.  There was even a streetlight lit up just outside our house.  Very frustrating.  Especially as one of the residents in our unit block had been running a very noisy generator since Saturday.  He had set it up in his courtyard, which meant that the fumes and noise was worst in the bedroom of our unit.  So we had to drag the mattress out to the living room in order to have open windows.

Post-Cyclone Food
Andy and I are both fans of not-wasting-food.  And we had planned ahead by filling the freezer with water bottles, which kept things pretty cold for a few days.  So it wasn't until Saturday that we really started throwing food away, though we had been without power since Wednesday night. Part of the reason is that we're not as precious about temperatures as we probably should be.  But, not having a fridge & freezer full of dead animals and dairy really helps, too!  Some of our post-cyclone meals...

For lunch on Friday, a container of bean salad that had been in the freezer, mixed with ceylon spinach, sundried tomatoes and olives (both of which actually survived without refrigeration quite well), and dill pickles (which I didn't want to leave at room temperature for long).

Friday dinner was a big curry - a block of tofu, a bag of veggies that were in the freezer and were all but thawed, a tin of coconut milk, and half a jar of rogan josh paste.

For Saturday breakfast, we had oats cooked with soy milk (asceptic cartons which we opened in the morning and used within a day, so Andy could have cups of tea) and bananas.

We ate lots of fruit - fruit leather and bananas that had been gifted to us after Yasi knocked down a friend's trees.  We also finished off a grapefruit that had been in the fridge, and some pawpaw from the tree in our unit block.

Saturday lunch was a much bigger lunch than we are used to.  Tofu, fried up with spinach and noodles from the freezer, and coated in half a jar of homemade BBQ sauce that had been in the fridge (and another pickle).

On Saturday afternoon, we took two batches of seitan from the freezer - they were defrosted but still cold.  Andy marinated one in a whole bunch of lemon juice we'd kept in the freezer, thinking the acidity would stop anything bad from growing.  The other batch was covered in dukkah, which we also store in the freezer.

For dinner that night, we cooked up a pack of still-cold hotdogs that had been frozen, and the dukkah seitan, and ate them wrapped up in mountain bread, with more spinach.

On Sunday we tasted our tofutti cream cheese and it wasn't off, so we  decided to eat it up.  We fried up the lemony seitan and wrapped it up with cream cheese and spinach for a late lunch.  We were so full that we decided to forego dinner that night.

A few things didn't make it at all - cooked beans, in both the fridge and freezer, started fermenting fairly quickly.  Ditto with the soaked soy beans.  We didn't even attempt to save the vegan mayo.  We also had to throw out the bananas, ginger, frozen spinach and chillis from the freezer.  Nacho had a big feed of frozen corn and peas before we threw the rest.  But other than that, jams, nuttelex, and curry pastes lasted the distance.  Our freezer houses lots of stuff that doesn't have to be frozen, like chia seeds, flax seeds, and yeast, so we just re-froze them when the power came back on and they seem alright.  And our ceylon spinach, which we had harvested in anticipation of the cyclone, lasted really well in a big tupperware container for about 6 days.  So all up, though it was annoying and hot with no electricity, we managed just fine, thanks to ice bottles, a camp stove, and strong stomachs.

On Monday morning I went to the airport early and headed up to Cairns to teach an intensive class, while Andy went back to uni to sit in air conditioning and use the internet do some work.  When he came home that afternoon, the fans were spinning and we were back in business.  So although there are still massive piles of debris waiting to be cleared up around town, that was basically the end of our Cyclone Yasi experience.

If you want to see more photos, you can check out my flickr set, the Tropical Cyclone Yasi flickr group, or the Townsville Bulletin galleries.


Hannah said...

I'm really impressed with how well you did with your food! It makes me feel a bit embarrassed about how nervous I get with temperature and best-before dates :S Couldn't help giggling at the dead-animal and dairy line :P

P.S. But chocolate, Theresa? Did you have any desserts on these post-cyclone days?!

K said...

Well done on using up so much of your food in such creative ways!

Theresa said...

Hannah, there was a bit of chocolate eatering happening. We had a 250 gram block of Whittaker's Ghana Dark in the fridge (because chocolate melts up here in the tropics!) that we had a bit of as a pre-lunch on Sunday, before we went to the (air conditioned!) cinema to watch Sanctum. But our meals were so rich, and so big because we couldn't refrigerate any leftovers, that there was no room for dessert.

There was a day full of cake though, which I forgot to mention. We had some lamingtons and carrot cake in the freezer, so we had to eat that up! Kept us well-fuelled on Friday while we cleaned up.

Emma said...

All those lovely trees! :( This year has been so dramatic so far.

Good job on not wasting too much!

The Vegan Snorkeler said...

Wow! You did amazingly well! I don't know what we would have done, but good idea with the ice bottles in the freezer. So happy you have power back!

Linda said...

the pawpaws bananas and the grapefruit look so mouth watering.

Cycline Yasi would have been horrid. I live in Melbourne and I cannot imagine how awful it would have been to have such a destructive storm sweep through my city :(

Linda said...

the pawpaws bananas and the grapefruit look so mouth watering.

Cycline Yasi would have been horrid. I live in Melbourne and I cannot imagine how awful it would have been to have such a destructive storm sweep through my city :(

Dee said...

Super post. You have way better photos than me, may I link them from my blog?

LOL the size of your pile of vegetation from the courtyard. Good on you for sweeping up the neighbours.

If you noticed the rather pristine state of the parking lot between your building and Admin, as well as the paths around HA1 and HA2 (in the old designation), well that is how I spent Saturday morning. I thought of you rather than the VC as I was doing it!!

Theresa said...

Hey Dee, link away :)

Anonymous said...

Goodness me, glad you weren't worse hit by the cyclone.
And you have Whitikers dark Ghana in Queensland? How lucky you are :)

barbie from office cleaning said...

Your still lucky there's nothing harm happened to you.
Thanks a lot for sharing your experience! It is good to know that some people still put in an effort into handling their websites.
I’ll be sure to look in again real soon.

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