The heroes of the hour

Well, we’re through the worst and out the other side.

Overflowing gutters, gale force winds and total rain white-out

Yesterday was a horror. The Cyclone After-Party was worse than the main event from my point of view. All Tuesday night and all day Wednesday the rain was absolutely torrential, the wind was consistently stronger, and our gutters gave up on the job of carrying the water away. The downpipes basically exploded at ground level, and instead of the water running away into the land drains, it surged into the under-house soil and started seeping upwards. By mid morning we were almost ankle deep. Two hours of shifting and lifting had the worst crisis averted; after a flooding experience about 8 years ago, I store a lot of stuff in large plastic tubs which are of course waterproof and make excellent platforms for me to put the non-waterproof stuff on.

The dampness and smell in the house is pretty bad. So isn’t it a good thing that this morning the sun came out hot and strong? Initially, of course, the humidity was terrible, but then the wind picked up a bit and we could get some serious ventilation going. Most of the water is gone, the wet patches are drying, and despite the fact that every hard surface outside – and most of the floor at ground level inside – is covered with a film of mud and the grassed areas sink ankle deep into silty mud, I’m beginning to feel a lot more cheerful.

Our glamorous heroine, who kept her cool when all around were losing theirs

Miz Lizzie has been a godsend. By the end of the day yesterday we were both at the end of our tethers. We’d been filthy and soaked to the skin three times, trying to sort out the gutters, we were exhausted, grumpy, hungry and dirty. I called a halt. We had super-speedy ‘army showers’ (wet down, turn water off, soap down, rinse off, maximum 2 minutes of water), got into clean clothes, I made us a nice supper and we took it into the cool, clean caravan and ate it and got into cool, clean beds and slept, abandoning our blacked out, dark, hot, damp and smelly house for a few hours of peace.

Ozito inverter generator, a sturdy lad with 3300w smooth sine wave output, suitable for sensitive equipment. What a guy!

The other hero of the hour has been Ozzie the generator, who has run enthusiastically and without trouble, keeping our fridge cool enough that we haven’t had to throw anything out. He’s not even that thirsty, being quite economical even on high draw. We’ve moved him from the garage down the length of the back yard to our very ramshackle shed, so that he can be noisy elsewhere. In case you’re worried we ran a generator in an enclosed space, one entire wall of the garage is made of those ornamental pierced blocks for air flow. The shed is so very dilapidated that ventilation is completely irrelevant; the entire structure is riddled with holes large and small. We were hoping the cyclone would take it away for us, so that the insurance would buy us a nice shiny new one. No such luck; it’s entirely unscathed. Bummer.

Today’s post is going to be the final TC Debbie report. I don’t know when power will be restored, probably some time next week, but in the meantime we’ll be working to restore order slowly. Obviously sewing’s out of the question but I’ll find something to tell you about 🙂

This has been your WordPress Cyclone Field Reporter, bringing you the news hour by hour from the ‘Clone Zone. Until next time, Chiconia Out.


84 thoughts on “The heroes of the hour

  1. So glad she’s out of your lives, and that there was no major damage. Also very glad to hear you get to shower courtesy of Miss Lizzie. Being sticky and pongy always makes everything 10 x worse. I can only try and imagine what it must have felt like to be in the embrace of those torrential rain and winds – sighs of relief all round xxx

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s hard for people to accept that we’re still subject to the forces of nature, despite all our lovely technology. And it just goes to show that good planning can alleviate the worst of the problems. I can’t imagine what we’d be going through with no caravan or generator.

  2. That damp and inundstion is a bother but so fortunate you have Miz Lizzie, and Ozzie. We’re waiting and wondering…

    • katechiconi says:

      The BoM map is looking a bit scary, I must say. I don’t think you’ll get the winds, but you’ll certainly get a large serve of the water! Time to lay in the dry goods, generator fuel and industrial strength Damp Rid! Oh, and a whole load of plastic tubs…

  3. Three cheers for Miss Lizzie and Ozzie!! I think you have missed a possible calling of a meteorologist/weather person. Top reporting Kate.

  4. Chas Spain says:

    Hi Kate – thinking of you down here. So glad to hear you are over the worst but the clean up I imagine will be awful for a while to come. It’s hard to take in the extent of damage up North – we only getting bits and pieces from what constitutes as ‘news’ these days. Glad to know you had your little van to retreat to.

    • katechiconi says:

      Oh man, I’m not looking forward to the clean up… I spent the entire time glued to my laptop, with 3 or 4 pages updating hourly for the BoM, Higgins Storm Chasing, Weatherzone for all the charts and gauges, ABC News, and so on. Sad, but true…

      • Chas Spain says:

        There’s really not much else you can do – especially if you’re just battened down. Folk up your way are made of tough stuff that’s for sure.

      • katechiconi says:

        What, you mean “Aw, she’ll be right” syndrome? Yes, I think you may have a point, and I’m learning to adopt that point of view myself. If you live in the tropics, you must expect cyclones.

      • Chas Spain says:

        I think expecting cyclones isn’t quite the same as having to actually go through one and (hopefully) come out the other side ok. Take care up there!

      • katechiconi says:

        Cyclones are like getting old: You know death is coming, but you don’t want to think about it! The difference is, you get to survive a cyclone 🙂

  5. Kathy D says:

    How wonderful! Debbie “lard arse” finely got it in gear! Have been on pins and needles reading your excellent weather reports! Congrats to Miz Lizzie and Ozzie, what champs they were through the whole miserable shebang!

    • katechiconi says:

      Absolutely! And you know what? I don’t think I’d do anything very differently another time, except perhaps see if a few sandbags would hold back the rising tide.

  6. modflowers says:

    Glad to hear you’re all ok. Wondering how much of Debbie my family will get to experience up near Maleny… last reports said it was ” a bit wild” out and the schools are closed…
    The cleaning up is bound to be tiring and unpleasant – I certainly don’t envy you that. But at least you won’t need the months and months of drying-out time that flooding in the UK entails.

  7. mlmcspadden says:

    I’m glad that the damage wasn’t worse, and that you had Ozzie and Miz Lizzie to get you thru this time. Here’s hoping the clean-up goes ok.

    • katechiconi says:

      I need a small army with mops and buckets and lavender oil and hot water and soap and industrial heat fans. Failing that, there’s me and my little mop and the sunshine, and no hot water because no electricity… It’ll take me a while, but I’ll get there 🙂

      • Grannymar says:

        Only wish I could help with the mopping and emptying the buckets, Kate. Alas the lack of energy and distance prevent it. Stay strong. xx

      • katechiconi says:

        I wouldn’t dream of allowing you to help! You’d get sat in a chair and regaled with cold drinks and stories! And I’d make excuses to stop work and show you my slice of rather damp and battered paradise.

  8. tialys says:

    You survived! 🙂

  9. craftycreeky says:

    Sounds horrendous, good luck with the clean-up, Miz Lizzie is proving quite a little haven! Look after yourselves 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      She is, and continues to be. She’s our oasis of peace, coolness and cleanliness in the sea of mud and mess. Maybe we should just shut up the house and disappear off in her… Hmm. Better not, I’d find toadstools growing up the walls when we got back!

  10. nanacathy2 says:

    What can I say but Oh Dear and so very glad you are safe.Good luck with the drying out.

  11. Good to hear you are on the other side of the storm. I imagine it’s hard to deal with those year after year but now you are even better prepared. Hope this is the only one of the season. Sewing will wait a while. Giant hugs. M

    • katechiconi says:

      They don’t hit every year, and certainly not in the same place, thankfully. Lots of times they develop out to sea and lose power and momentum before they ever reach land. But as this one’s so late in the season, I think we’re fairly safe for the rest of the year. Must see about getting the guttering fixed….

  12. lucyannluna says:

    Good luck with the clean up

  13. magpiesue says:

    Of COURSE the shed is still standing!!! What else would you expect in this crazy, mixed up world?! Miz Lizzie and Ozzie are truly the heroes of the day; so glad they were on board for you. I don’t envy you the clean up job either but hope it goes more quickly than you might expect.

    • katechiconi says:

      We were so hoping it’d go… It would have been a silver lining to the black cloud of Debbiedom. The trick with the clean up is to somehow get most of the mud up without adding too much new water to the equation. I’ll have to start with wipe rather than mop, and perhaps not even mop till I can have hot water again…

  14. dayphoto says:

    Gosh! I’m so sorry about the ground floor…to have your stuff covered in muck and mud INSIDE the house is horrendous! I’m so thankful for you you have your little Lizzie haven…what a gift. I sure wish I could help you. What a mess!

    • katechiconi says:

      It will be wonderful to have power restored, and I shall be so grateful and appreciative of my luck. Meanwhile, we swap the power cords from appliance to device and back again, depending on what we’re doing. I’m fortunate that the water didn’t come higher – it’s just possible we might get away without having to replace all the sheetrock. Time to hurry up and wait and see…

  15. So glad you are safe. Hope the clean up goes quickly.

  16. anne54 says:

    That Debbie has certainly impacted a lot of lives. We are hearing reports now of the devastation to crops. So good to hear that you and Mr C are doing okay. You will have things organised and ship shape in no time, but the smell may take a little more time to go.

    • katechiconi says:

      To be honest, it’s the smell that’s bothering me more than the dirt… But we’ll see whether industrial quantities of Febreze will help. I’m very worried now about my friend Nanette in Murwillumbah. The floodwaters were up to her bottom step when we last had contact very late last night…

  17. ordinarygood says:

    I wish I could send you our brisk dry northerly wind and sunshine! Thank goodness you are OK bar the smell and mud etc. My cousin lives in rural Grafton and had trouble getting home last evening due to a flooded causeway and is now probably housebound until the floods around them subside.
    The costs for this Cyclone will be astronomical in all aspects of life.

    I see Debbie is really the “GIFT” that keeps on giving and giving some more as weather models begin to indicate that she and her remnants(make of that what you will as a quilter!) head across the Tasman to my neck of the woods. For now the washing is drying on the line which I am grateful.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m grateful for all sorts of things, and being able to turn on the washing machine today for an hour was one of them. I had a pile of sodden towels that were beginning to make their presence felt, lots of filthy clothes from our current muddy pastimes, and I was running short of underwear. Debbie is a mean old hag, to be bullying people she’s got no right to be visiting. She plays rough and sticks around far too long. My fingers are crossed that you’ll be spared the worst of it. Grafton would have had a nasty dose, being low lying, on the already flood-prone Clarence river, and much too easily cut off. Hope your cousin will be OK and has made preparations for a short run in the role of Noah!

      • ordinarygood says:

        Debbie really outlives her time in all areas it would seem. It just sounds horrific for people – crawling into ceiling cavities and up on to house roof!!!
        Wet towels in high humidity =rank and revolting. And a “smalls” crisis. Perhaps I should add extra “smalls” into our earthquake survival gear. So far my cousin seems safe- they have lived in their property for many years now and it does not seem to flood but the causeway down the road cops it.
        As for what we get here – lots of rain as the ratbag Debbie collects more water from the Tasman Sea but it is early days for forecasts to be accurate. We had a lot of landslips around us after the November 14th earthquake and big rain storm that followed. I doubt we need another ongoing deluge to undermine the hills more.
        I’m over Mother Nature after more dire reports today about damaged buildings in Wgtn after Nov 14th and how useless the port is at the moment if another large quake hits.
        Fingers crossed you get more dry weather!

      • katechiconi says:

        I’ve negotiated for generator time for the washing machine, and have two nice clean loads drying on the line, hurray! It’s a huge juggling act, prioritising which electrical gadget you need most, and when. The fridge takes absolute priority, but if it’s been running for 4 hours on max cold, then you can steal its power supply for a couple of hours for other things. Do you know, I’ve learned enormous amounts of useful information about electricity, different types, AC vs DC, 12v vs 15v, regular vs sine wave. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…

  18. wombatquilts says:

    I had to drop by the blog and see how you were going. I have been thinking of you a bit the last couple of days. I am glad everyone is in one piece and I hope the clean up is not too horrendous.

    • katechiconi says:

      Hello! Lovely to hear from you, and hope you’re doing well.
      Clean up is going to be long and dirty, but not particularly dire; we just have to wait for the house and then the ground to dry out. The yard has become a quagmire of stinky black mud, and I don’t own too many items of footwear which aren’t generously crusted with it. We need to get an earth mover in to remake the drive and turning area out the back and lay about 15cm of crusher dust down to give us a hard surface again. But most of all I want to get power on again so I can clean properly and finally have a hot shower…

  19. Chris S in Canada says:

    Oh dear residents of Chiconia. I’ve been thinking of you the last few days – concerned about your situation and reading your posts for news. I’m sure Lizzie and Ozzie were saving graces – who would have thought that your new “vacation home” would be your refuge in your own backyard.

    If I could, I’d be there to help you clean up – I know it will take a long time. Do you think using tea tree oil would help with the smell and the possible mould? If you possibly can, replace that drywall – once it’s been that wet, it can be asking for trouble leaving it in place.

    Here’s hoping you get reconnected to electricity soon – that will help.
    Chris S in Canada

    • katechiconi says:

      Hello there! We have been extremely fortunate to come out of this with just a bit of excess water; several of the Husband’s colleagues have lost their entire homes to flooding. Down Under, it’s still summer, and the days are currently hot and breezy, so I can have all doors and windows open. The smell is abating a little, the floors are dry, and at first glance the sheetrock hasn’t taken a great deal of damage; the water and mud came and went fairly quickly. We’ll assess its condition in a week or so and decide after that. Hot water, soap and either tea tree or lavender oil will make things a bit more pleasant. As I write, the power company has a team at the end of the road dealing with the tree that fell on the lines. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll have light and airconditioning tonight, although a full tank of hot water may take a bit longer 🙂

  20. Way to go Miss Lizzie!!! Giving comfort and support when in times of crisis gives her the Good Samaritan prize!

    • katechiconi says:

      I agree 🙂 We’ve also offered her as temporary living accommodation to a colleague of the Husband’s, whose house was totally washed out. His wife has just had surgery, and they have only the clothes they stand up in. Once the power’s back on I’ll give her a good clean and get her stocked and ready in case of need.

      • Chris S in Canada says:

        Bless your hearts. There is always someone who needs help isn’t there. I will pray for blessings on all of you.
        Chris S in Canada

      • katechiconi says:

        Please add to your prayers the people of the city of Lismore in northern New South Wales, a good way south of us. The entire place is under water, and some people have died when they were washed away.

  21. nettyg says:

    Glad you’re out the other side. I was going to do an update post, but a bit exhausted after an uneasy and sleepless night last night, and busyness today, so will do it tomorrow. I waded through waist deep waters so the puppy could go on the mud to pee, she held on all night, poor love. Anyway, you’ve said it all for me….wet,dirty, muddy, fed up. But…and sorry…..I can have a hot shower! And just as the water was going down, we now have another warning…..tidal surge backing up the river from the coast will raise the river again at least 2mtrs…..aaah! It was 6.4 last night, surely it can’t be as bad this time. No sewing for me either, everything is packed up and set up high in case water comes in the house. clean up will be next, not looking forward to that!

    • katechiconi says:

      We got power back about 6pm, so I splurged the last dregs of hot water in the tank on a short but hot shower! So nice to be able to flick a light switch again! Glad you’re dry now, and hope the tidal surge doesn’t cause any further damage. Tomorrow is mop and bucket day, taking stuff to the dump day and picking up fallen branches and loading fallen tree chunks into the trailer. Happy day… Well, at least it’s not raining!

      • nettyg says:

        I can’t get out yet,water all the way in every direction from my front gate, as far as the highway east and all along my street in both directions.
        Enjoy being civilised again.

      • katechiconi says:

        Oh lord, it’s hanging around… I hope the water dissipates soon and doesn’t leave too hideous a mess behind it. Being civilised might be a rather large ask for me, but I’ll certainly revel in the luxury of electric light, hot water and efficient refrigeration for some time.

  22. Catherine says:

    So glad you are safe and sound. Everything else will sort itself out in due course! It,its have been quite the experience, and I’ve heard not everyone has been lucky and safe. What a few days!

    • katechiconi says:

      We know just how lucky we are when we talk to the friends and colleagues who’ve lost everything in either the cyclone or in the subsequent flooding. It’s going to be a long time till I take mod cons for granted…

  23. kathyreeves says:

    Showers can be the most amazing things! Miz Lizzie wins the day, for sure. I know you are both in for several exhausting days, don’t get too crazy trying to finish up, get some rest too! So glad you guys are safe and sound!

  24. My mother’s worst complaint about a messy house was “looks like a cyclone went through it.” I now know a cyclone is far wetter, muddier, and stinkier than she imagined. May your labors be eased by cool drinks, much laughter, and at least one thing found you believed lost!

    • katechiconi says:

      Thank you! Cyclones inevitably carry rain with them, unlike tornados, so there’s always water damage even if there’s no flooding. Mess is one thing, but soggy mess is a whole nother thing! Today is cooler and sunny, perfect clearing up weather.

  25. kymlucas says:

    So glad it’s over. Sounds like a horrible experience.

  26. dezertsuz says:

    It does sound horrible, start to finish. I’m grateful the water wasn’t deeper, and that you were prepared, so not so much was damaged, but what a mess to clean up. Your little caravan really was a God-send, wasn’t it? You are my only friend, as far as I know, who has suffered so much at the hands of this cyclone. I’m so sorry that you have, and I hope the clean-up is soon done and your house smells sweet again.

    • katechiconi says:

      Thank you for the good wishes, and I join you in hoping for a quick clean up! It has been a somewhat stressful time, but it’s over, and we’re safe and I’m much more grateful for my blessings than I was before!

  27. So rubbish to hear about the flooding. It’s absolutely devastating. But 3 cheers for Miz Lizzie. Or even 6! Glad everyone’s safe.

    • katechiconi says:

      It was a big old mess, that’s for sure, and the remains of the cyclone are still making life difficult for thousands further south. Nature can be a tough old monster sometimes…

  28. Kate, your reports have been wonderfully detailed. Thank you for keeping us abreast of the storms and the aftermath. I’m glad you’ve been able to shower and rest. Happy Anniversary. You’ll never forget this one, that is for sure. Best of luck getting the muck off the floor. What a messy proposition. Sending hugs.

    • katechiconi says:

      You know the saying “a problem shared is a problem halved”? I feel the same goes for cyclones. We were together, we shared the crappy stuff and rejoiced together when it was over. I couldn’t have done it without him, and I don’t think he’d have had much fun without me there, although he’s done it before…

  29. rutigt says:

    So glad it´s all over and you are still alive! It´s been so interesting to read about this sort of weather which I have never experienced. I´m trying to imaging how it must have been, but it´s hard. I have only gone through snowstorms 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      So far, I’ve gone through two cyclones. The first time, I couldn’t believe the unearthly noise. This time, I couldn’t believe the water flooding in through closed windows and up through the floor! I suppose the weather is the price we pay for living in such an amazing part of the world.

  30. Truly a good news and bad news report. The best news is that you came out of it safely. Now to clean up the mess without getting injured… Take good care.

  31. I am sorry to hear that the shed survived, but it sounds like a perfect generator shed. A flooded house, ankle deep, sounds ghastly. How on earth did the caravan stay dry?

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s on a level with the upper half of the ground floor, about 14 inches off the ground, and has stabilising legs. The part that flooded is only about 2 inches above the ground outside. As for the shed, it’s clearly indestructible, so we’ve decided to give it a facelift to make it less disreputable.

      • Grow a creeper on the shed? Everything grows in Queensland and every ugly structure looks better concealed by green. 🙂

      • katechiconi says:

        I’d be delighted, but Himself would not approve, on the basis that it would block the gutters, etc. I had a beautiful Petrea vine in a tub which did that to the patio roof, and I was requested to remove it. It was chopped down to a stump but is eagerly sending out more shoots. Perhaps I’ll sneak it round the back of the shed and see if he notices…

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