Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weathering A Yasi!

Well Cyclone Yasi has been and gone. It crossed the coast as Category 5 (the highest rating for a cyclone) about 160 kilometres to the north of us. Yasi was huge … the eye alone was around 35 kilometres across.  The main part, including the eye, stretched close to 500 kilmetres wide!   We were within the circle of destructive winds just outside the eye or centre and we had a wild ride on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

TC Yasi superimposed on the U.S. ... gives a visual about just what a monster it was!

Here's some tips about weathering a cyclone:
1.  Have plenty of water supplies.  Fill the bathtub, fill huge 5 gallon water containers, fill any spare bottle you have around the house.  It's surprising just how much you will appreciate your efforts in storing water when there's no running water for days and days!  (Special note:  you'll need quite a bit of water to help flush the loo!!!!)  I recommend the 5 gallon containers as they're so much easier to heave around!

2.  Make sure you have a source of power such as a little generator.  It is so surprising just how boring and long the day can be when there's no power for your various modes of entertainment.  We've been without electricity now for four days and it feels like a lifetime.  I'm able to blog tonight because we took the chance to fire up the generator for a few hours instead of the hour in the morning and the hour in the evening that has been the routine for the last few days.

3.  Have plenty of dried and non-perishable food items in your pantry!  After an exhausting day of clearning dropped branches and dragging them metres to the fire-pit, the last thing you feel like doing is cooking up a huge meal on the barbeque at the end of the day!  It's soooo much easier just to boil some water and add it to something that resembles rice and then just chuck a steak on the barbie for some added sustenance.

4.  Sit out the scary cyclonic winds with friends.  Stay out on the back verandah until you can't stand the rain and wind lashing anymore ... and the little branches flying past perhaps add a little bit of fright to the experience ... and make sure you have a wee drink or ten!  Left-over bottles of champagne from a mother-in-law's milestone birthday come in very, very handy!
(No, my friend is not trying to get internet access, she's just playing some music on her lap-top to lighten the mood.  Bob's 'Blowin In The Wind' is a great choice!)

5.  Ensure that the battery-operated source of all knowledge about the cyclone and how it's progressively raging closer and closer to you comes from something cute and adorable.  The duck of doom was most appropriate as our one and only source of contact from the outside world in the wee small scary hours!  Pay homage to the duck of doom and bad things might be averted!

6.  On the night of the raging storm, make sure you cook loads of tasty food.  I highly recommend big pots of spaghetti ... quite easy to cook using a little portable stove when you lose power and spaghetti tastes great even when you're sitting in a dining room surrounded by what seems like a whole fleet of jet engines roaring all around you!  It also goes very well with lots of robust red wine!

7.  When you hear some frightening clunks and crashes from outside don't whatever you do, try to go out to see what it was!  Your face will never recover from the wind and rain lashing it receives while you're being so inquisitive.  Far better just to wake up the next morning and take a wonderful stroll of discovery outside when you can actually stand up straight and walk!

8.  Have plenty of fun board and card games to play ... Coon Can (also known as Gin Rummy) is a great one to play or Taboo!  It's something to keep your mind off the noise happening all around you.  It's also a great source of diversion when you find you just can't sleep!

9.  Ensure you service your chain saw.  That will most certainly come in handy when it's time to cut down, trim back and just generally give your entire property a clean-up in the aftermath of some rather nasty windy weather!  Be prepared when you venture outdoors ... your garden will never quite look the same again!

10.  Must-do's:
- have cash ... they just won't just give you stuff when you turn up to a shop that has no electiricty
- fill the fuel tanks in both your cars ... it's surprising just how much running around you have to do for elderly relatives in the aftermath of a cyclone
- constantly add to your collection of batteries ... make sure you have all the different types as you just might be surprised what sizes are needed for things like battery-operated radios and clocks
- tape all your windows ... even those you think are not in the direct path of cyclonic winds as it's amazing just how much pressure is created inside your house in the event of cyclonic winds
- finally, have a great sense of humour and a resilient nature ... it's very handy not to lose it when things start crashing into your house or falling off your house! 

O.K. ... silly stuff over with now!  All is well here. We sustained some damage to the house … the bull-nosed hood that wraps around the verandah had a section ripped off and there were a couple of smahed windows. Aside from that the house came through OK.

There was no torrential downpour with the cyclonic winds and I think that helped Townsville come through relatively unscathed. The winds apparently reached aorund 125-130 kms an hour here … it certainly felt like it! … but without the heavy rain the damage around our city appears to be quite minor.

There are thousands of trees down all around the city and many of them bought down powerlines. There’s still around 60,000 homes without power today … we’re one of those … and for some of us the lack of power also means there’s no running water. There’s no electricity to power the water pumping station.

So right now, we’re cooking on the barbie, using the generator for a few hours in the morning and at night, and using our water sparingly. I expect we’ll be one of the last suburbs to have the power restored as I’m afraid the outlying rural suburbs are not areas of priority.

Compared to those poor souls up in Mission Beach, Cardwell and Tully though, we’ve been very lucky. They have really suffered and they were just getting back on their feet after Cyclone Larry wiped through there a couple of years ago. The weather has remained relatively clear so that certainly helps with the clean-up and the repair crews are hard at work.

Our property here is covered with such a lot of debris from broken branches and fallen trees … we’ve been busy trying to clear a way out of the property as the driveway was impassable. It took almost an entire day, but the driveway is now cleared and we’ve started work on cleaning up the rest of the place. It will take a while, but we’re so thankful that’s the worst of it!

We’ve lost the tops off our two 30 feet tall Tabebuias, and our huge 30 feet by 30 feet Weeping Fig Tree … these trees are all located close together and the mess left by the branches ripped off is just massive.

Our 10 foot African Tulip Tree has falllen over completely and unfortunately taken out a fence panel. We also had the 30 foot Tabebuia from next door crash over another of our fence panels.

Next door’s Poinciana took out a number of tall trees down our driveway and many of the 8 feet Duranta shrubs were torn apart. Of course, we’re surrounded by gum trees our in the bushland and lots of broken branches ended up littered across our property. 

My stunning white Bauhinia is completely split in two and will have to be removed. My two 12 feet high Plumerias have many broken branches and will have to have a rather severe trim.

That's hubbie on his way back from dragging yet another huge load of debris to the what could be called our Mt. Everest pile!!  All in all the place does look a bit of a wreck, but that’s nothing compared to the devastation further north. We were lucky enough to dodge a rather massive bullet!


  1. OOOH! Scary, but reassuring to know that you are all safe. You have a lot of work to do now!

  2. Oh Bernie your beautiful trees,What a mess! but thank god you’re all safe and well and had a good laugh about it. All hale the little yellow duck of doom did make me laugh and I love the photo that goes with it.

  3. Oh Bernie ~ Thank you for letting us know how things are with you. Glad you survived with minimal damages. Your poor lovely trees though. Clean up is such grueling work.

    Hugs ~ FlowerLady

  4. Oh Bernie: Your poor garden took quite a hit didn't it. Queensland has had its share of terrible weather this year and collasal damage. I am glad to see by your photos that your home was mostly spared and that you and yours are alright. Take care.

  5. Bernie, I am saddened to see the damage this storm has caused. You certainly know how to prepare, we are not as good doing that around here and we got caught last summer with days without power. Take care, and hopefully there won't be another storm like this one.


  6. Such good tips for disaster time Bernie. Just look at those huge trees being uprooted and your garden trees too! I hope everything slowly back to normal. Im awarding you the Stylish Blogger Award, come and get it at my blog Bernie if you have time ok! Take care.

  7. First, thank goodness you are okay and unhurt. Second, what an enormous mess. Third, the trees, the trees.... how sad. Fence panels and roof overhangs can be fixed, but the large trees that were damaged are gone or deformed and that is too bad. But I am glad to hear you weathered the biggest storm ever seen! Thanks for such a thorough recap of what it all was like. yikes.

  8. So pleased to hear that you are safe and well and everyone on GoY is thinking of you.

    Mavis x

  9. hahaha that was hilarious! I need to get me a duck of doom just in case of earthquakes of typhoons

  10. Glad that everyone made it safely. Your post is a good guideline for weathering the storm. Hope you get your power back soon. My house is last at the end of the power line and back in 2005 we went 37 days without electricity from two back to back hurricanes so I can relate. Hang in there and keep the positive attitude it makes all the difference.

  11. Hi Bernie. I was so glad to see your posting. I have been wondering about you with the storm coming in. What a mess to clean up and so many lovely trees destroyed but we are all glad you made it through it safe. It was a massive storm. It would have swallowed us all here in the states.Amazing.Great survival tips and it is wonderful to see your sense of humor through it. Take care.

  12. Dear Bernie, I went outside today because the temps are now above freezing. ' Scraped the ice off the back steps so that I wouldn't fall, and inspected my English Boxwood shrubs. I found a few major branches that had been torn off by the ice and heavy snow. I feel for you. They are over 100 years old and I moved them from my parents' house over 35 years ago. After nurturing shrubs and trees, Mother Nature can reverse all of your hard work in an instant. We will both repair the gardens that we are the stewards of, and new things will be planted, and the remains of other plants will repair themselves over time, but it won't be the same. Here's hoping that it will be better with your hard work. You are a Faithful Gardner, Lori

  13. Bernie - great to see you have electricity back and OK. Glad you didn't lose your sense of humour or your roof. I must admit when it was heading for Cairns I was terrified for the kids. They were well prepared and are all fine, but you never know what will happen.
    Hope it's the last cyclone for the year but I doubt it.

  14. Bernie, gosh sorry about the storm and mess. Your hubby and you must be tired now. I hope things are back as usual now. Have a good rest yeah.

  15. I was worried when we didn't see a post from you but I guessed it would be a power problem. I'm so pleased that you are all safe but what devastation to your beautiful garden. It is amazing how Queenslanders can keep their sense of humour in a disaster and you sure are one of them.

  16. So happy to hear you made it through the storm. It is a lot of work to clean up afterwards. Pace yourselves, stay hydrated - you did not mention the humidity - must be pretty fierce right now.

  17. I am glad you have maintained your sense of humor. At our family's home on a small island in Maine, we prepare for hurricanes the way you describe. But after a microburst (loccalized tornando) hit the island without warning, I swore I would evacuate if another hurricane was predicted. As I watched, it took down every mature tree on the property all at once and left the electric lines arcing and snapping in the heavy winds. We were without telephone, power, and water for 6 days---I discovered it was the water I missed the most. I will never again take the power of nature for granted or think I have any control over it. I am glad you and your family are safe.

  18. Great blog Bernie. It must have been frightening to say the least, but humor comes in handy at times. I can relate to the mess in the garden, having had one cyclone through in Darwin. It took 12 trailer loads of debris to the tip. But amazingly all grew back so fast. Of course your Spathodea will not, nor will your Bauhinia and you and the birds will miss those trees.
    Anyway, it keeps you fit doing the tidying. Has school started again?
    I watched a lot of youtube video's and saw one of a car driving through Riverside Gardens in the aftermath and there was so much mess of all the uprooted and snapped off trees. Read somewhere your green waste collection in full swing with tons and tons of mulch being produced. Where do they take that to, do you know?
    Is your family all right too? Well, good luck with the cleanup and hope it doesn't happen again. But there are some forming again, hopefully no more monsters. Take care, M.

  19. Bernie, good to see you are sorry for the damage to the trees and all what a scary thing to live through. In the states I grew up with tornadoes and vowed to not live near them again...brings back that scary time!! Stay safe.

  20. Hi Bernie, glad to see that after such a terrible storm you are OK :) It was very interesting to read about how you go about preparing for your "wet season"!

    It's a crying shame to see all those trees destroyed by the force of the winds. :( It will be years before your garden recovers & even then it will never be the same.


  21. Good to see you back and great tips for all kinds of disaster. We lose electricity and have our shingles blown away with the winter snow storms occasionally. There have been extended outages here due to ice, but nothing compares to hurricanes and cyclones. Scary stuff.

  22. Gald you got through safely Bernie, but sorry to see you had so much damage. We on the northern edge got all the rain! Take care and hope it isnt too long until we see photos of all your lovely blooms again.

  23. Thank you everyone, your comments have blostered my spirits! We're still without power and water here. It's been six days now and it's beginning to become a bit of a drag I must say!

    Carolyn ... you are just so spot on! We've been without power and water now for six days and while it's fairly easy coping without power, trying to get by without running water is quite hard. We're so lucky we had so many containers of water filled and ready!! But even they are starting to run out now.

    Sanddune ... I just can't imagine 37 days without electricty. It's been 6 so far for us and we're hoping to have it back by the end of this week.

    Sue and Fer, glad you so liked the duck of doom. He's still doing a mighty job as we turn him on every morning for some news!!

    Marguerite... I think it's going to take many weeks for the clean-up here. We will be dragging a lot of it to our fire-pit and burning it off. I think there will be plumes of smoke every weekend for quite a while to come!

  24. Hi Bernie; I was thinking about you and your garden. Such a mess; your beautiful trees; glad to hear the house was not badly damaged. The garden
    will recover after a certain time, I hope your tender plants have not suffered to much. For sure you have not lost your spirit which is the most important.

  25. I love this post Bernie =)) The wind howling must have been very frightening but as always a sense of humour can help immensely - but again and on the serious side - so glad you are safe - Cate =)

  26. Bernie, I am so glad you are o.k. Am so sorry for all the damage to your yard and garden. Be careful with all your cleanup and don't get hurt. Your garden expertise will be put to use more than ever as your revamp you landscaping.
    Take care-blessings!

  27. Greetings from Southern California, USA

    I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to :-)

    God Bless You, ~Ron

  28. Haha! I like your duck of doom! That's scary stuff! I'm glad everything turned out well.

  29. Some parts of your post made me smile, and some parts made me cry. I hope things are going better now.

  30. Bernie - what a wonderful 'word-smith' you are! You have taken an incredibly frightening experience and made it so relate-able to your readers. You have such a charming sense of humor!

    The storm damage is shocking. I admire your moxie! There is so much work to be done. (Even "wow" is an understatement!)

  31. You guys really did dodge a major bullet! I'm so thankful that everything's okay, and as much as I love tabebuias, tulip trees and ficus, they could all die and that would be fine as long as you and your family are safe and sound. I admire your resilience and attitude!

  32. It is so heart breaking reading this, albeit well after the event. Bernie, the you get to re-plan and redesign to your hearts content and watch your wonderful Queensland climate come back and repair itself.
    My thoughts though are ,,, well you might feel like hitting me for this because I know how much you love your garden,,,,,is, Things don't matter, people matter. And you are physically OK coming through this.


I appreciate your comments and will endeavour to reply to all. All comments are moderated, so spam will be fried.

Related Posts with Thumbnails