Saturday, 12 February 2011

Cyclone Yasi

We spent two days preparing for Cyclone Yasi. This involved tying and weighing things down, filling troughs and tanks with water, taping windows with masking tape, moving anything loose into the house or sheds, harvesting food, pre-cooking meals, checking our emergency supplies, charging all batteries (including 12V ones for lights), fueling our cars, collecting a spare LPG bottle (for hot water, BBQ and cooking), filling the header (storage, up hill!) tanks with water, making ice in the freezer, preparing a 'safe room' in the house and more.

On the afternoon before the cyclone, the power went off around 2pm. We released the 2 horses, 4 cattle and all the poultry into the house paddock, which we secured as much as possible.

The cyclone lasted all night and roared for over 4 hours. It poured with rain sideways and buffeted the side of our house relentlessly. It was very loud, and so dark, and every now and then something would go BANG! I was so sad for our poor animals out there in the dark...

By dawn, we could go to the windows to look outside, but we still couldn't go out because of strong wind gusts. We were totally exhausted that day, after being awake and scared all night.

Our power didn't come on for another five days and we mostly had no landline phone or internet (it came on for a couple of hours here and there) and sometimes we had mobile coverage for calls, sometimes just sms, sometimes nothing. The roads were cut to our farm, but not for too long. We have our own water supply, and that was not affected, thankfully.

Damage included a smashed chook run and hen house, one shed half gone, the milking bails are folded in half (roof caved in, wall missing), a lot of fences down due to trees falling on them, lots of our fruit and nut trees are broken and uprooted, as are some of our native plantings. One greenhouse is a bit squashed and plants like passionfruit vines are shredded. There are leaves and branches and mud and mess washed and blown onto everywhere they shouldn't be! Our banana trees are in half, with bunches on the ground. A couple of parts of the house leaked water and so did the shed, but there was no major damage to any domestic buildings. A lot of our refrigerated and frozen food had to be given to the chooks.

It took two full days to fix the fences, and another day to cut up the fallen trees and drag them out of the way. It would be great to be able to mulch them. We have salvaged some firewood from some, and will use some as mulch.

The chook run has been mended, and their house has another tarp covering it for now. The milking shed has been propped up but needs major repairs fairly soon.

Further inland from us, roofs were blown from houses, shops and sheds, so we were very lucky to have sustained so little damage. Many farmers lost some livestock to injury and shock. Lucy only gave 2L of milk on Thursday afternoon, and has only slowly increased since. She still isn't giving as much milk as before the cyclone, which I've heard is a common reaction.

We are feeling so blessed because of the minimal damage. When we look at images of towns like Tully and Cardwell, andthe surrounding beaches and farmland, the effects there are so much worse. Many homes have been condemned, many more await repairs. Whole farms have been flattened. There are still tens of thousands of homes without power across the far north, and many without water. There's a massive accommodation shortage here in FNQ, and not enough tradespeople to repair the damaged buildings.

Yasi is just one natural disaster in recent history. The news is a constant stream of stories of floods, fires, cyclones and more. Seems to me like Mother Nature has something to say...


Ali said...

Oh your poor banana plants... how very sad they look. I am so glad to hear that you and yours are relatively undamaged, I hope things (like milk cows!) get back to normal for you soon.


Lisa said...

Glad to hear you are all alright. I am in NSW and this year I have heard nothing but nightmare weather stories from SA, VIC, WA and poor old QLD has taken a battering this year. I feel so lucky to have escaped it all this year. Some years we have had all our christmas presents in bags by the door due to fires and we had flooding and storms about 4 years ago when we had no power for 5 days and it took us 2 days to cut the trees from across the driveway to leave our farm. Makes me nervous though as we have had an easy year. Is it the quiet before the storm for NSW? Hope not. Good luck with all your fixings. Keep safe.

Fay said...

Even though I followed the cyclone very closely (my brother lives in Townsville) to hear your personal recount brings tears to my eyes. I am sorry for your loss even though it is not as bad as others. I am so very glad your family and animals are safe. I think Mother Nature is telling us something very loudly..this is her place not ours and we need to take better care of it.

Just A Gal said...

Wow. I'm so glad your family is okay. Sending you blessings.

dixiebelle said...

Oh my goodness, Bel, that is terrible. I hope you can get the other things fixed soon, and that the milker comes around OK... goodness, how scary!