We were holding back the flood …

Me by the Gorge floodwaters! Speccy!

So, the Bear and I had a bit of a sleepless weekend. No, we weren’t out being the crazy young vagabonds that we are (ahem …). We were … actually … waiting to be evacuated. Because our suburb was potentially going to be subject to a “one in fifty year flood”. Really.

I didn’t believe it either, at first. I mean, I knew Invermay was nicknamed “The Swamp” because it was built on a flood plain. I also knew it hadn’t actually been flooded since the sixties. Plus, it hadn’t actually rained THAT much. I mean, I walked nearly the whole way to Trevallyn in the “heavy showers” and my jeans got a bit wet but it wasn’t that bad. Plus, that was Thursday. Friday was bone dry and sunny. Hardly flood weather, right?

So, when I arrived home on Friday to find a “what to do in a flood” brochure in our mailbox, my first reaction was, “Oh they must have posted these a day late. It was raining yesterday. It’s fine today”. Oh, and I also thought “they” had overreacted somewhat. After all, this is Tasmania. Nothing like that ever happens down here. The craziest thing that ever happens (weatherwise) in Tassie is a bit of snow in Winter.

Anyway, that night, the Bear went out with some mates and I trackied up for a night in front of the telly with Mephy Danger.

Then, my Aunite (who also lives in Invermay) called. I missed the call but she left a voicemail asking if I’d read the brochure and was I prepared to evacuate.

I thought she was overreacting.

Then, during a bit of idle internet surfing, I saw a message from the premier saying we might be up for this “one in fifty year flood”.

Hmm. Premier. Less likely to overreact.

A bit more internet surfing later, I discovered warnings on the BOM page, the SES page, the Examiner website, the state police website …

By this point, I was freaking out. Slightly.

I called Bear. Bear said, “don’t freak out”. He was down by the river and said, “I haven’t been swept away yet”.

I tried to not freak out.

Bear came home. we watched a movie. A couple of hours later, we went to bed.

Then …

At 2am, we got a knock on the door. A police man. Telling us we might need to evacuate and that we should pack bags, put everything up high, find the cat and listen to the radio.

Jeepers.

This was happening. This was REALLY HAPPENING.

Cue mad running around house packing (as it turns out, packing at 2am when very tired not the best idea. I packed cornflakes, dry shampoo, sweet chilli sauce, six pairs of underpants and no bras or socks. I am so hot in an emergency), locating the cat, warning the cat he might need to evacuate (he bore this information with customary bravery in the face of danger), listening to the radio (which told us very little about the flood and an awful lot about fly fishing. Turns out local radio is a bit boring at 4am. Not too conducive to keeping awake).

And we waited.

To cut a long story short, as you’re probably aware, Invermay didn’t flood. The water didn’t reach the flood levees. By 9am the potential evacuation had been called off, we were told to be “vigilant” for 48 hours and I could put the chilli sauce back and brief the cat on our revised situation. I couldn’t help thinking I saw a look of disappointment cross his face. I think he would have quite liked to be evacuated …

As I sat on the couch, feeling hungover with tiredness, I couldn’t help thinking how quickly things can change. I remembered, a couple of months ago, the heartbreaking pictures of flood-ravaged cities and towns on the mainland. I remembered thinking, at the time, how Bear and I were so bloody lucky we lived in Tassie, where nothing like that ever happened. Even though, in the end, nothing DID happen, this weekend has been a reminder that it could. That we tiny humans really have no control over the might and power of nature.

Last night, like half of Launnie, the Bear and I went to the Gorge to see the magnificence of nature, as flood waters thundered through the canyon. I hate to use cliches, but sometimes words like breathtaking and spectacular seem the only apt ones.

Nature can be vicious. It can also be so stunning it makes your heart hurt.

To everyone who went through natural disasters this year, this weekend has not given me even a hundredth of a sense of what you went through, but it did shake up my sense of comfort and safety. I know, now, that I’m not safe.

I also know that I am a really crap packer-in-an-emergency, that Mephy Danger does, indeed, deserve his name. And that local radio in the early mornings is enough to put anyone to sleep. Even in an emergency situation.

One thought on “We were holding back the flood …

  1. Hey Kate,
    liked reading your evac story, I imagine that adrenelin mixed with that ‘drunk with needing to be asleep’ feeling is a potent mix. The only potential evacuees here were our chickens. The water was up here when I came in to meet you for a cuppa on Friday but no further than in January when we had a flood. As far as I was concerned that was as high as we could go as we live near the dam, at the top! But no….on my arrival home the water was two metres into our yard and the park was submerged, no walking the dog! By 6pm it had crept in a further two metres and the fence was slowly disappearing, by peak time it had reached the estimated level in the morning and thankfully the hens were on slightly higher ground (we were planning what to do if we needed to evacuate them and told them to put their belongings up high as well!) By 11am, the water had completely covered the fences and we were a proper water frontage property (I was hoping for a lost trout to come in and allow us to keep him!). The water only went down yesterday afternoon and today we could get out of the backyard to walk in the squishy park. No trout, alas! Very exciting but also a reminder of how quick and quietly powerful the elements are, I realised as I walked out the gate this morning just how deep our backyard was as it reaches my mid chest height! Not as scary as your event, I did think of you both though as I was aware of the preparations for evacuation. Aah, the lives of writers and what happens when they stop for a coffee!

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