The Sting in her Tail

TC Debbie isn’t done with us yet.

I woke up at 2.30am, hot and uncomfortable, and realised the power was out. The wind had risen again and this time, it was coming from the north. After phoning the power company and explaining to the after-hours help-desk in Brisbane that this was north Queensland and the TC Debbie aftermath, the nice lady was unable to give me any idea when power might be restored, said that we were among 430 households without power in this area, the guys who would fix it wouldn’t be allowed out till the wind eased and it was daylight, and please don’t go outside in the dark in case there was a live cable lying on the ground. Reasonable, in the circumstances.

By 6.30am we were still out. The Husband also discovered that Debbie’s circulation ‘afterburn’ had blown over the fence between us and our left hand neighbours and stripped a lot of leaves. It was still raining… The wind has veered round to the north instead of the east, so we’re getting a whole new set of things being blown over/down/around.

This’ll have to go before we can get the car out…

At 9.30am we resigned ourselves to an extended period without power. We fired up the generator and plugged the fridge into it. You can do without a lot of electrical things, but no fridge is a tough one. It’s a powerful, but not particularly quiet, generator, so if we still have no power at bedtime, we’ll hook the generator up to the caravan all the way out the back and sleep there – at least we can run the aircon in there and be comfortable. It’s still around 27°C/80°F.

We have battery lanterns, the phones and laptops are charged, we have a mobile internet dongle, the fridge is running and once it’s cooled down again, we can plug in other stuff to make life a little more pleasant. Personally, I’m eyeing the big pile of wet towels in the laundry. They’re going to get a bit feral unless dealt with soon… Unfortunately, our local supermarket is one of the places without power, so at some stage we’ll have to extract the car from its place of safety, squelch and slide through the mud and stormwater, and go foraging. I can feed us for many more days on what I have, but it’s the coffee…. must have milk! And speaking of coffee, we must unearth the stovetop percolator from the caravan – the plunger coffee tastes pretty ordinary compared with the stuff we’ve been drinking.

What we’re seeing is the long thin band of bad weather that’s whipping round in Debbie’s tail. There’s rain, wind, thunder and lightning. Just what we need to help with the clean up! We’ve subsequently discovered that the big old trees by the school at the end of the street have dropped limbs onto the power lines, hence the outage. It’s not going to be a priority fix; the precedence goes to hospitals and emergency services, service stations and supermarkets, and then everything else. The school will be closed anyway. I reckon they’ll take their time. It could be up to a week. What fun, eh? Not.

On the upside, we have a generator, a solid roof over our heads, clean running water and enough food. I consider us rather lucky.


If you’re located in Central or SE Queensland, or Northern to mid North Coast NSW, I urge you to read this report from Higgins Storm Chasing about forthcoming weather. Friends, you’re in for a severe wetting and early notice may help you take measures. I’d show you the radar map of what it looks like from the Bureau of Meterorology, but the website’s currently so over-subscribed I can’t even get it to open 😦


Later the same day: It has rained almost without ceasing all day, and very heavily. If it gives you any idea, we had 20.2mm in two minutes, as recorded at the weather station at Mackay Airport. That’s ridiculous. I finally managed to get onto the BoM website, and here’s the jolly picture. This weather system isn’t going away without a fight…. Having mopped a lot of that rain up off our lower ground floor where it had broken in uninvited, I feel a certain sense of ownership of this storm. It’s either that, or have a good cry…

And now, we are retiring to our comfy, cool, dry watertight caravan to sleep the sleep of the just. Or perhaps the deserving. Or just bloody tired.  More in the morning.


90 thoughts on “The Sting in her Tail

  1. Emma says:

    Bummer! I hope they don’t take that long to get your power back, a week is such a long time. It’s fortunate that you have a generator. Crossing my fingers that it gets sorted sooner rather than later.

  2. kymlucas says:

    Appreciate the update. And like Emma, hope they get your power back on sooner than expected v

    • katechiconi says:

      If we’re lucky. The preparation for this cyclone has been exceptionally well planned, so you never know. Trouble is, you can’t predict which trees will fall on which power lines 🙂

  3. Good time to have that little caravan. Makes that storm almost bearable. I’m glad you didn’t hit harder.

    • katechiconi says:

      I feel I got relieved too soon. We’ve just had 60mph winds and half an inch of rain in 10 minutes, according to the weather data gauges at the airport… Still, once the water stops pouring into our garage and store room because the gutters can’t cope, I’ll view the rest of the natural phenomena with a bit more chill…

  4. nettyg says:

    Like you the last few days, I’ve been glued to maps, charts, flood watch warnings and updates.The dark clouds are gathering, and it’s terribly hot and still. I’m all prepped and ready, luckily I have a gas cooktop if the power goes, but I hate watching and waiting to see what the river and tides are going to do.

    Glad you guys are ok, and are going to be able to manage without electricity…..shame about the coffee!

    • katechiconi says:

      We can’t even get out to a coffee shop for a decent brew, the roads are like rivers. Hope your Girls survive the soaking; I’m sure you have a plan for chook care in a storm. Keep us updated on how you’re travelling.

      • nettyg says:

        If it looks like the river’s going to break the banks they’ll go up high in a dog crate in the garage. My neighbour worries that the chook house will get washed away and the chookies with it. I’m not so sure, but it makes him feel better if I put them away. Otherwise they’ll just stay in their house with food and drink close by. I’ve just finished closing in the north facing verandah with tarps so it and covering the furniture. Waiting now…you know how that is!! Will keep in touch, thanks, you can help keep me sane this time round 🙂

      • katechiconi says:

        The waiting really is the pits, isn’t it. And being stuck in the house while nature throws a tanty isn’t much fun either. I admit I’m getting a bit stir crazy. I haven’t left the house since Saturday except to go into the back yard this morning to clear the drainage ditch and haul bits of tree out of the way.

  5. anne54 says:

    Sitting here in a calm and sunny Melbourne it is so hard to comprehend what it must have been like, and continues to be like, for you. A week without power is a long time, even if you prepared as well as you have. As you know, the priority is to stay safe. 😘

    • katechiconi says:

      We’re dug in and reasonably self sufficient; we certainly won’t starve even if the fresh milk runs out. I wish I had a video camera to communicate the outrageous, extreme and generally unwarranted weather we’re getting. One minute damp and windy, the next minute solid water lashing at the roof and flooding the lawn for the umpteenth time, sounding like someone’s pouring a truckload of gravel onto the roof. Our ‘moat’ out the front is rising, the bridge over it nearly went under earlier. If that happens, we’re a bit stuffed.

  6. Take care. I hate going out in bad weather, and only would do it if absolutely necessary. Out here in the sticks we always have long life & powdered milk which don’tbtaste the greatest but will do for cooking. We’re keeping an eye on the weather, have plenty of supplies to hand & a generator, and take our coffee black! However I think we’ll be spared severe weather this time, maybe just a very rainy Thursday… I have to be at Tafe so fingers crossed.

    • katechiconi says:

      I can’t bear the flavour of Cardboard Cow… but I may just have to harden up if we get a chance to nip out and find a shop that’s open. This weather is definitely showing up the shortcomings of our guttering and land drains. They’re fine for ‘normal’ weather, but not so hot now, and our downstairs is flooding…

  7. magpiesue says:

    Thank goodness for Miz Lizzie! And that she is, apparently, safe and sound. Here in the States we have power crews come from all over to help out after massive outages; maybe the same will happen for you and you’ll be powered back up and cooled down again sooner than you expect. Hang in there!

    • katechiconi says:

      We had 800 crews sent up to North Queensland from the south in preparation for the cyclone. The problem is that no-one knew where she’d hit, and the possible sites were hundreds of kilometres apart, so the crews had to be spread out amongst them. Now they’re all focusing chiefly on the worst hit zones, and the hospitals and emergency services, shops and service stations all get priority, which is as it should be. Miz Lizzie is snug and dry under a roof, we’ve turned on her fridge, which can run on propane, and we’ll spend the night in her with the generator going round the other side of the house to keep the noise down. I’m looking forward to a decent night’s sleep! Not as much as I’d like a hot shower, but I need to be frugal with the hot water we do still have…

  8. Oh boy… And here we all thought Debbie had left the building. 😖 So glad to hear you are coping so well. Even without your coffee fix. 😜😘❤️

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s like she’s left a nasty smell with us when she went… I seriously think this weather is worse than when she was arriving – there’s certainly more rain!

  9. Bugger and bugger. Main thing is that you guys are all safe, but it still shakes you up. And that tree! Don’t damage your back trying to help Mr C move it out of the way. (Glad he’s home right now, by the way). xxx

    • katechiconi says:

      Oh boy, me too. The tree has been chopped into chunks thanks to our helpful neighbour’s chainsaw. Now, if it would only stop raining, the flooding downstairs could drain away or be mopped up and the storm drain out the front would go down enough to make me a bit more confident about leaving the house!

  10. tialys says:

    I thought it was too good to be true that you still had power 😦 It sounds as if you are as prepared as you could be though – thank goodness you have a generator and a caravan! Could you cope with black coffee?

    • katechiconi says:

      We’d have been fine if it hadn’t been for that pesky tree (sorry about the Scoobydoo-ism). It just goes to show that during a storm isn’t always the worst time. Just so you know, the branch came down when we had a 96kmph wind gust, and we’re currently gusting at about 75-85kmph right now. With rain, of course…

  11. tialys says:

    Oh, just read back and see you have flooding on the ground floor of the house. How are you coping with that?

    • katechiconi says:

      Grumpily… Wads of towels along the seep line to slow the inexorable tide. Move everything non-waterproof to a higher level. Sweep the water out the door. Mop, mop, mop and mop some more. Leave doors and windows open in the brief intervals between deluges. And then after a bit when you’re exhausted you just say “stuff it” and go and sit down and ignore it for a while…

      • tialys says:

        …and there was me complaining about having to mop up a bit of incontinent old dog wee at 1.30 this morning.
        I hope the flood water doesn’t cause too much damage – you won’t have carpets of course so that’s a blessing. I always think about that when there is flooding in the U.K. as everybody seems to have carpeted floors there.

      • katechiconi says:

        No, our flooring is wood upstairs and tile or concrete downstairs, which is one less thing to worry about. It’ll dry out eventually, but we’ll be left with tidemarks on the walls, a damp pong and a fair bit of damage to the stuff that was in cardboard boxes on the floor. You don’t expect a flood to be so bad, so quickly, that it virtually rises up out of the ground. Still, we live and learn, and I won’t make the same mistakes again.

  12. Thanks for the update. Sorry you’ve been in this state of anxiety for so long. So wearing and tiring quite aside from the work and hassle to keep life as normal as possible. Miss Lizzie clearly a very useful acquisition. But pleased you have good neighbours and I guess it does bring out a community spirit. Can completely understand the need coffee I can’t abide longlife milk but I do love evaporated milk in my coffee and would have that by preference to milk…..

  13. ordinarygood says:

    Oh boy, Debs is the kind of “gift” that just keeps on giving and NOT giving up! I hope you get some sleep tonight – things never look quite as bad after a good kip. Let’s hope things improve for you very quickly.It is good to get your reports….keep them coming as you can.

    • katechiconi says:

      Yes, the clean, cool, dry, comfy caravan is waiting for us tonight. It would be great if things started to turn the corner tomorrow but I’m not holding my breath. And Debbie’s off to give the south of the state and northern NSW their own pasting.

  14. I saw some pics of Mackay on ABC news website… among other areas it’s really copped it. We’re keeping any eye on Deb’s aftermath, they’ve extended the flood warning as far south as the Bellinger. I’m hoping at least as it heads south you’ll get some respite.

    • katechiconi says:

      Me too… We escaped from the house for half an hour between thunderstorms and had a look round town. Loads of road closures, the Pioneer river is twice its normal width, lots of flooding and thousands of homes and businesses without power.

  15. Well, not a great situation, but it looks like you’ll cope ok. I guess however prepared you are, it always comes as a shock to have to implement all the measures you have in place. Hope you manage to forage whatever you need. x

    • katechiconi says:

      It was that phrase “..ALL the measures”, which is pretty much what we had to do. I’m not complaining too loudly, there are so many others so much worse off, but I do miss my ‘normal’.

  16. OlgaAlso says:

    Glad you’re ok Olg xxx

    • katechiconi says:

      Olg! Welcome to Chiconia! We’re both OK, but a bit frayed and very tired. I guess you’ve seen the posts I’ve been putting up about TC Debbie and her fun and games. She’s still giving us a hard time; power’s still out, incessant rain, flooding downstairs, it’s hard to buy a carton of milk… however, aside from being a bit tired and frazzled, we’re both OK. When we get home internet back, how about a Skype?

  17. nanacathy2 says:

    Thinking of you and just glad you are safe.xx

  18. Jen Gardener says:

    I’ve been thinking of you Kate. Just read your cyclone commentary over the past 5 days. I love how you describe Debbie. I think “slow old cow” was my favourite of your descriptions. Hope you’ve got the car out and got some supplies. The joys of tropical north Queensland!

  19. Debbierose says:

    So long as you & hubby are safe & unharmed utscs blessing. Take care Kate

    • katechiconi says:

      We’re safe, the house is more or less OK apart from the flooding, everything is muddy, we’re grubby and tired, but it’s OK, there are so many in much less favourable conditions.

  20. Oh I am so glad you are safe!!! I just posted I hope you have a pleasant day, I wish you strength and peace of mind as I’m sure you will be cleaning and helping others in your neighborhood. My prayers are with you. May you be quilting again soon.

    • katechiconi says:

      Lots of cleaning! There’s mud EVERYWHERE. People are pulling together a lot, lending tools and equipment, helping to haul out fallen trees and repair broken fences. The sun is finally out after 5 days of gales, so we can open windows, air the house, dry up the damp, etc. There’s a long way to go, but the end is in sight…

  21. kathyreeves says:

    This reminds me so much of Atlas a few years ago….so glad you are safe and dry, though definitely in for a few days of ick. Ironically, this storm is affecting the large event I ran before resigning, the scheduling program resides on a server in Australia! Who knew your weather would have a world wide effect!

    • katechiconi says:

      Who knew! You’re right about the ick, it’s too hot for boots and I’ve given up trying to keep my feet clean, there’s mud everywhere. Once we have power, I can go back to civilised levels of cleanliness, but for now, so long as we don’t smell, I’m happy!

  22. Thimberlina says:

    Sounds like you and your hubby are made of strong stuff and coping. I hope the coffee and cider are able to keep flowing when needed and your caravan allows you to have some well deserved sleep.

    • katechiconi says:

      The caravan was a tiny oasis of civilisation 🙂 Lights, aircon, clean clothes, a hot meal and a drink of something a bit more exciting than water or instant coffee. We’ll be back in there tonight.

  23. Jule says:

    I’m glad you are OK, wishing you a quiet and restful night after all this fuss. Hope the power will be back on in the morning and everything soon returns to normal.

  24. magpiesue says:

    Can’t help but think you’re perfectly entitled to something even stronger than cider (but perhaps cider in OZ is more potent than the apple cider I grew up on)!

  25. dayphoto says:

    Golly! I am so glad you are safe…first and foremost! Second the mess is terrible. I’m sure it will take some time to clean up. Married to a former lineforeman they do work hard and steady to get everyone back on the line. But being on the side that is waiting it is a long terrible wait when you are way down the line.
    I’m so glad you are safe and your ‘stuff’ is okay.

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s frustrating not to be able to run the pressure washer, dishwasher, washing machine (do you see a common thread emerging here?). I’m less fussed about TV, internet, music, etc. I just want to get things clean, and it takes such a long time when you have to boil a kettle to get hot water!

  26. Grannymar says:

    Kate, I am breaking my silence to let you know I am thinking of you in these difficult days. Debbie was the first thing I heard about on the radio at dawn today. Stay dry and safe, hugs from Northern Ireland.

    • katechiconi says:

      We came through it OK, and although we’re tired and rather grubby (oh for a long hot shower!), order is slowly being restored, although we can’t do a whole lot till we have power back. It’s amazing how you come to rely on good light for everything!

    • katechiconi says:

      Thank you, Marie 🙂 As I’ve said elsewhere, it has been the support from all my blogging friends which has made this situation bearable. Blogging about it reduced the situation to proportion, and responding to comments has made me realise that actually we’re rather fortunate. Yes, we made good preparations, but so did others who are now much worse off. Hug back! xx

      • Grannymar says:

        At least it was this year, Kate. Last year while waiting for, and recovering from surgery would have been a whole different ball game. Mind your back when shoving and shifting. xx

      • katechiconi says:

        You’re so right, and I was only thinking that very same thing this evening, as I eased my sore but not majorly painful back. A certain amount of bending and lifting’s inevitable, given the problem, but hopefully I’ll be able to manage the pace.

  27. nettyg says:

    Hope you had a good night. and thanks for sharing Debbie with us here in the south 🙂 Heavy rain all night, I’m just glad the electrical storm was fast moving and has gone to bother someone further south. shame the rest of the weather system is not as fast!

    Hope you’ve not woken to more water downstairs and there’s a chance to do some cleaning up today. Take care.

    • katechiconi says:

      Sorry about Debbie gatecrashing your party, but we couldn’t (didn’t want to!) hold onto her any longer 🙂 We woke up to weak sunshine which has now developed into a sunny and breezy day. We have every door and window open to evaporate the last of the water and get rid of the damp pong. I can use a mop and bucket, but hot water would be so welcome… Never mind, it could be so much worse!

  28. Don’t envy you at all. But you do have it a lot better than many – who knew the caravan would be so very useful and important? Seems you were looking out for yourselves before you knew you had to.
    Hope the house flooding isn’t too awful, and you had time to move things if you could. Will be looking for your post on the morrow!

    • katechiconi says:

      We managed to get most of the stuff that wasn’t waterproof up and out of the water, but there were a couple of boxes of things that were past saving. I have a lot of things stored in big 80 litre plastic tubs (foresighted, moi?), so they made good platforms to put the cardboard boxes on! Everything will have to be moved and the floor mopped in the coming days, but till there’s power and hot water it’s hard graft… The caravan is a perfect oasis of coolness, cleanliness and comfort. How clever we were to buy her! And how lucky that we had somewhere to store her under cover and safely out of harm’s way.

  29. I see your replies dropped off about 8. I hope that means your tucked in bed in your caravan and that you managed some much-needed sleep. It’s the most restorative thing we can ask for in a crisis I think. It rests both the body and the mind. I’m sorry to hear that the water seeped in to your lower floor. I know from watching the flood news here in San Jose that it’s not just the floor but the Sheetrock/wallboard that has to be replaced. And the worries of mold, too. Oh, Kate. I’m so sorry for you and your Queensland neighbors. You prepared as best you could and for the most part, seem to have weathered it reasonably well. My heart goes out to you.

    • katechiconi says:

      We lost good internet signal last night during the lightning strikes, so I think the tower must have been struck. I took advantage of the hiatus to cook a meal, take a 1 minute lukewarm shower and get the caravan aircon going so we could retreat from our dark, hot, wet, smelly house! Today’s another story, the sun is out, the breeze is strong and we’re airing out as much as we can. Still no power, but at least we don’t have to live with the incessant storm noise. And we did get some sleep last night, although the storm was still raging then and there were plenty of flashes and rumbles! Everything seems much more hopeful after sleep and with the sun shining.

      • Gosh, Kate. I hardly non what to say. It all sounds dreadful. I’m glad you managed sleep and a quick shower and great news too that you can air out the house a bit. That should help. How did the water get in? Did it come through the windows or under the foundation?

        Thank goodness for your internet connection. It’s allowing you to blog and catch the weather reports.

      • katechiconi says:

        The gutter downpipes into the land drains couldn’t cope with the inundation and overflowed into the ground under the house. The water forced its way up through the expansion joint in the concrete slab. There was a little that came through the windows, but nothing much to speak of.
        The internet signal is still patchy, but I’m feeling a bit cheerier; we scored some fuel for the generator and some groceries 🙂
        Also, we’ve allowed ourselves some naughty snacks and a glass of something each; it’s our wedding anniversary today!

      • I’m catching up on your posts, Kate. Happy anniversary to you both. I’m glad you had a little something to celebrate. I hate to think of you spending your special day with a mop in hand.

      • katechiconi says:

        Thank you! The mop was a rather necessary piece of equipment, and there’s still a fair way to go, but the house smells better already!

  30. Lynda says:

    We lived without power in 2011. It’s doable, but not pleasant. We were glad for our generator and for cooler weather. I do hope your mini station will keep you comfortable overnight.

    • katechiconi says:

      It wasn’t at all bad, but we are concerned about keeping our neighbours awake with the noise, so we’ll be moving it today to the shed at the end of the back yard, with a very long cord into the house. We have a decent breeze to help dry things out, but oh how I long for hot water and a working washing machine! I have to run things in turn, and if I run the washing machine, I have to turn off the fridge… The little genset is great, but not up to running the whole place at once.

  31. rutigt says:

    Hurra!!! We only had snow last night 🙂 Saw the report on the news and it wasn´t that uplifting! I´m glad you are alright 🙂

  32. nettyg says:

    Happy anniversary, one to remember. I’m flooded in, river has broken over the levee bank and is flowing happily through and under my house, and I think there’ll be an awful mess to clean up when the water subsides. Not thinking about that. I don’t think it’ll get as high as the house, but who knows, after a little break, it’s pummelling down again. A little bit scared.

    • katechiconi says:

      I wish I could be there to hold your hand and we could be scared together. I feel very fortunate that all I had was half an inch of muddy water. Do you have an escape plan, or does it consist of ringing 13 25 00? I don’t think there’s much I can do except be here if you want to talk. Do you still have power?

  33. nettyg says:

    Just sitting tight now, SES won’t come out,too risky. I think my house is high enough that water won’t come in, but I feel very vulnerable, can’t see out to see how high it’s getting, and it just keeps bloody raining!! Have some power points out, they keep tripping, not sure why, tv and powerpoints in kitchen are out, but could plug the phone in in my sewing room, so that’s good……and boil water on the stove. glad I spent a big bit of dough to have the fuse box brought upstairs into the laundry…now that was money well spent, no going outside to check fuses. I thought I’d sleep well, did so much walking taking the car to high ground, then having to walk back the long way, as roads were going under so quickly, but now it’s raining again, not sure I will. Will head to bed soon anyway.

    • katechiconi says:

      Now THAT was foresighted. I can understand you feeling vulnerable, being so very close to the river, but you’re slightly better off there than in the previous house, I think? The fact that you have some power is good, but it sounds as if some of your wiring is getting a bit wet. I’ve been keeping an eye on the BoM radar map, and it’s looking pretty heavy duty down your way. We’re thinking about you and wishing the rain to pass swiftly and as lightly as possible…

  34. nettyg says:

    The other house was lower so water might be getting in there quicker. Friend who lives just up from there, said water was on her lower stairs, same as mine, but I have about 12 more to go, she had 6, so yes, maybe a little better off. Friend in Nerang said they’d had a big downpour about 7 and it was easing away, so we’re getting that now, heading south east, plus some more. It’s not going to stop for a while. I’m very envious of your clear radar picture:) Thanks for the good wishes.

    • katechiconi says:

      It took a while to get that way, I hope yours will clear a lot faster. Try and get some sleep tonight, I know it’s hard but if you’re exhausted everything seems much worse. xx

  35. nettyg says:

    Yes, I remember you saying that on one of your posts. Problem at the moment, all others aside… to let Mirrhi have a wee….no way she’s going downstairs, she’d float away. she’s so good and clean, don’t think she’d wee on a newspaper?

    • katechiconi says:

      This may sound bizarre, but I’ve been told that if you, um, ‘season’ the contents of a litter box yourself, the dog will get the idea… Worth a try, I suppose. With the Dowager’s cat, we had a box of kitty litter ready, but she’s used it just once, at the height of the cyclone when I refused to open the door and let her out into the lashing gale. All other times, she’s made use of the garden, soaking wet or not. She must have found somewhere a little dryer than the rest…

  36. I have been catching up on all your cyclone posts. I agree that 20 mm in two minutes is ridiculous. I am not sure I would be spending the night in a caravan, however, for fear of it blowing away with me inside!

    • katechiconi says:

      It actually felt rather cosy and safe, since it was parked in the lee of the house, on a hard surface and under a steel roof. There was very little buffeting, and it had the huge advantage over the house of working lights and aircon.

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