Friday, February 11, 2011

Cyclone Yasi: Weathering the Storm

Picking up where I left off, the power went out around 5.30 on Wednesday evening. At this point it was windier than normal, but not dramatically. We looked outside and there was a tree down from the neighbour's house, completely blocking our street. We watched out the kitchen window as our idiot neighbours (from the other side) walked outside in the wind and rain to have a look – bringing their not-yet-teenage children out with them. They sent one of the kids back in after a few minutes, but only to fetch them cold beers. Talk about responsible parenting choices.

Because the power was off, it got pretty warm pretty quickly – we don't use aircon at home, but the lack of fans was definitely noticeable. But we realised how lucky we were. The wind was coming, at that point, from the south. Our unit is on the north end of our unit-block, so we were able to leave our windows open until 10pm or so, without too much blowy-ness.

We spent lots of time watching the wind whip the palm trees from the kitchen window.

When it got a bit darker, we could only see the silhouettes, but it was pretty clear that the wind picked up speed progressively.

All the while, Nacho slept through the storm. She's normally a major scaredy-cat, so we were surprised how utterly unfazed she managed to remain.

We snacked on cold sausage rolls, cooked earlier in the day, throughout the night. Our only battery powered radio is a bit insufficient: it plays FM only, and it needs earphones. So much of the time, Andy and I were squeezed together despite the heat, sharing one set of earbuds so we could hear the local radio.

After we shut the windows it got oppressively hot inside, so I ripped apart a shoebox to make a fan to cool us off ever so slightly. Then, as the storm got even worse and the wind howled around us, Andy and Nacho both fell asleep. I did a crossword puzzle by candlelight, listened to the radio, hoped the noises I was hearing on the roof were branches and not our roof blowing off. Between 12 and 1, the eye of the cyclone crossed between Cardwell and Mission Beach – around 200kms north of Townsville. Then the wind changed direction, coming at us from the east this time. By 3am, the windows hadn't blown out, the roof was still attached to the walls, and it was starting to (barely) calm down a bit. So we went to bed. I woke up a few more times, but by morning it was clear that we had made it through unscathed. It was still a bit blowy on Thursday morning, but much less than the night before.

We went outside, but not far. We had a peek at the downed tree, crossing the street just beyond our driveway.

We walked up in the other direction, but were quickly stopped by downed power lines in every direction. Since the wind was still blowing, we didn't want to take any silly risks.

We noticed that traffic poles had a bit of an angle that hadn't been there before.

And we saw a smashed window at Liquor Land.

On closer inspection, though, we concluded that it wasn't cyclone damage. There was a rock just outside the broken glass, and just inside were two bottles of booze that looked like they'd been quickly abandoned.

We went back inside, fired up the campstove, and made a cup of tea.


Then we hung around and waited for things to settle. I had a nap, we listened to the radio, read books, did crosswords, and played cards. We snacked on some carrot sticks and green hummus - chickpeas with spinach and also sundried tomatoes - which Andy had blended up the day before, when we still had power.  The fridge stayed cold overnight, but by morning we emptied out the important stuff into an esky bag with a bottle of ice, but we left things like jam in the still-slightly-cool fridge.

Since the power was out, we wanted to keep the freezer shut for as long as possible, to keep the cold from the ice bottles in. So for dinner that night, we made pasta with sauce – a jar of pasta sauce with added beans, carrots, and spinach.

We ate by candlelight, which may have been romantic if it wasn't so... dark.

While we were eating, the army rolled up.  I thought they were there to clean up the tree blocking the road... but they left a few minutes later.

And we went to sleep almost as soon as the sun went down – at around 7.30pm – and slept like logs until well after the sun came up the next morning. Then, the weather was good, and it definitely felt like the storm was over – so I'll be back with a final post about our clean-up and sight-seeing adventures.


Susan said...

That footage of the trees blowing in the dark is so spooky. I am glad that Nacho was so unconcerned about it all, a terrified kitty would have made things a lot more stressful.

DJ said...

I'm finding your account of the cyclone terribly compulsive, it's like some kind of magazine serialisation that leaves me on tenterhooks week-to-week between issues!
Glad you guys and your house made it through unscathed.

Millie said...

Theresa, if you are interested in canning lots of dried food, our church has canneries all around the world. In there you can can dried white, black & pinto beans, oatmeal, flour, pasta, sugar, dehydrated carrots & onion and a whole lot more. We do allow people who are not members of the church to can food. You only pay for the product which you can in 10 lb. cans and the cans, oxygen & lids are free. Each can is preserved for 20 to 30 years. I have cans even under my bed & inside my coffee & side tables. They also have dried food in pouches which is also easy to store anyway. Many of our church members have 55 gal. water tanks in their living rooms covered with a nice tablecloth over it with a vase of flowers on one knows it holds water unless you tell them.

Hannah said...

Thank you for turning away from the power lines - I like you being safe and in one piece :) How atrocious about the break-in at the store, though! People are so stupid sometimes.

Kinda loving the green spinach idea. And I did just buy three cans of chickpeas!