HoTs and DoTs: A Restoration Druid and Shadow Priest

Keeping My Head Above Water

Not a WoW post today, sorry.

BrisbaneRiverPeak-DaveHunt-AAP

The Brisbane River. Photo taken by Dave Hunt, AAP.

Since Christmas I’ve been watching the news coverage as the northern half of Queensland floods. Keeva over at Tree Bark Jacket struggled to get by as major towns and highways were cut off by flooding near her home. I’ve logged into WoW a few times since Christmas checked up with my guildies living up north: they seem to have avoided the worst of it.

Never did I think my own city and my own home would flood. Welcome to Brisbane, Australia.

Right up until Monday night my brother (handy to have a dam engineer in the family) assured me “No, Brisbane will be fine. Do you know how big Wivenhoe dam is?” (and yes, he’s that condecending in real life).

I’ve spent my entire adult life living in a drought, living within strict water restrictions, taking 3-4 minute showers and buying washing machines, dishwashers and shower heads based on their water efficiency. In September 2010 we took a day trip out to visit Wivenhoe dam to mark a joyous occasion: after hovering at extremely low levels (10-15%) for years the dam had finally reached ideal capacity (100%)  and opened its gates to let excess water run downstream.

100% capacity means that we have more than enough stores to run the city’s water works. But the dam can store almost double that amount of water. And that’s what it has been doing. But by Monday night, after months of rain, the dam was at 190% and the Brisbane River was already high. Unexpected flash flooding hit Toowoomba and other smaller towns only an hour or two away from Brisbane. Unfortunately most of the deaths caused by the floods occured that night. Parents died trying to save their young children.

I woke up the next day to phone calls and visits from concerned family and friends. I live not 100 meters from the Brisbane River in one of the suburbs that went under first in the last Brisbane flood (1974). My townhouse is built up over three levels, but like so many modern apartment blocks, they dug down into the ground to cave out that lowest level with room for a garage and study.

I started packing. The internet was the first to be switched off (it’s down in the basement study) and I packed up as much as I could and moved it up a level. At that time I expected only part of the lowest floor would go under.

Only a few hours later the news reports changed. Residents were warned to expect the flood to exceed the height of the 1974 flood. I started the much more difficult task of moving what I could from my main floor up to the bedrooms on the top floor. The lowest level inner city suburbs were already being evacuation. And I wanted to be out of there before they shut my power off.

I feel like I moved house in the space of half a day. Under the water (I was soaked from the rain) I’m sure I was soaked with sweat.

Right now I’m staying with relatives high up in the mountains on the outskirts of the city. I didn’t sleep very well that first night (the high tide was at 3am) so we drove out to see the damage first thing in the morning (not an easy thing when so many roads are covered over or closed off). 

Half of the lowest floor was already under water. With reports suggesting that the river would continue to rise 1 – 1.5 meters higher over the next two days I left convinced - resigned - to the fact that I would likely lose the second floor of my house: the bathroom, kitchen and living room.

But someone up there is looking kindly on me. I woke up this morning with the news that the flood had reached its peak and not risen as high as expected. With a mere 20 centimetres to spare my main floor is entirely untouched. That’s the depth of just 1 step on the staircase. Talk about a close call!

I can’t tell you how happy I am. This is probably the difference between covering the costs of repairing the flood damage with my insurance… and having to find tens of thousands of dollars to make my home livable again.

I wont be able to return home until it’s safe and the water has completely receeded – hopefully by the start of next week – and then I’ll be looking at a few weeks before my suburb is put back on the grid and the power comes back on. Gosh knows how long it will before I can have my electricity and network cables fixed – they were all wired into the floor that is flooded – so I doubt I’ll be back to blog or play WoW for a while yet.

Finally I just want to say that we’re lucky, as a city, that we had as much advance warning as we did. I felt that I salvaged as much as I could. Most people have been very helpful and, as far as I can tell, most people evacuated long before the police were called in. I hope we don’t see nasty behaviour such as looting (I know 3 people have been arrested, but hopefully that’s about it).

It’s estimated that 13 000 – 20 000 homes have been flooded in the city alone. Please open your hearts and your homes to those who have been displaced.

*Updates*

Most of the wreckage was moved out of our lowest level on Friday and Saturday the 15, 16th. Volunteers are everywhere … making me wish I hadn’t worked so hard to clean up myself (my friends and family had pretty much done most of the work by the time they arrived). One of my insanely organised neighbours is calling in favours left right and center: we had a generator (for power) and a high pressure water hose on Saturday which was amazing.

It’s a bit unknown whether or not I’m covered under my insurance policy but I’m not too worried because the government is forcing all insurance agencies to accept claims. I think they plan to step in and pick up some of the bill if they insurance companies refuse to.

My “untouched” main floor is covered in muddy foot prints and it’s driving me crazy. Yet I’ve discovered that I’m happier when I sit on my messy, empty, ground floor without power than when I’m staying with relatives and have access to hot water, cooked food and the internet. “Home” means so much. 

There’s something wrong with the power in my group of townhouses (the primary?) and also at the street level. No electrician can start to evaluate my place until Energex rebuild whatever is wrong on the street level – at the earliest 1 week away. Lathere (one suburb away, and high up) is still without electricity. The houses on the other side of the street to her have power!

There has been some mad, but inventive, brainstorming sessions on what could be done to really flood proof the townhouse: everything from one way drains to water tight walls and doors. The truth is we’ll probably just rebuild what was lost without many improvements simply because it’s cheaper. Which is boring and uninspired.

Oh, yeah, the only material that really comes through floods well is concrete and solid wood.

23 Responses to “Keeping My Head Above Water”

  1. KurnNo Gravatar says

    Glad to hear things are well with you and that your home was spared the worst! I have some friends in Brisbane (one who grew up in Toowoomba, whose family is thankfully safe) as well as my cousin and his wife (safe, to the south of the city proper) so I’ve been following this with a lot of interest.

    Thinking good thoughts for all of Queensland!
    Kurn’s last post: Healer Evaluations

  2. I’m so sorry you are having a rough time. At least you are safe and had some small notice to mitigate the damage. Best wishes for the next few months. I’m sure it’ll take a while to get everything back in order.

  3. RedbeardNo Gravatar says

    Wow.

    You stay safe, Cassandri. Stuff is, well, just stuff. I’m glad that you and your home survived this wave of flooding, and that things –although bad– turned not to be as bad as predicted.

    We’ll keep the candle burning for you out here in the WoW Blogosphere.

    P.S. Was Lath affected by the flooding too? Is she okay?
    Redbeard’s last post: From QQ to Pew Pew!

    • CassandriNo Gravatar says

      Lath lives in Brisbane too but her apartment is up high in a pretty hilly suburb. She has only been home a few days from the hospital with her little girl (I was trying not to spoil her news by announcing it on the blog before she had a chance to!) otherwise I probably would have crashed on her couch.

      Unfortunately she is currently without power (any suburbs with a single home that has been partially flooded has been without electricity – for safety) so she has been driving over here too just to use the washing machine and dryer!

  4. KeevaNo Gravatar says

    I saw my old apartment going under on the news – I used to live in St Lucia, and Ipswich before that.

    I’m glad you avoided the worst of it. I hope the weather gives us all a break so that everyone can get in and start cleaning up, and moving on.
    Keeva’s last post: Ghostcrawler blog- We’re watching healing

  5. Best of luck and I hope things dry quickly. Not too dry though.

  6. AppleNo Gravatar says

    I have had the bad luck to have a number of friends/acquaintences/bloggers-I-follow who live in the nebulous “Australia” and no idea of whether or not they were affected by the flooding. I’m SO glad to hear you (like the others I’ve learned live where floods have been) are all right.

    Best of luck to putting your home back together. :) I’m glad it’s as relatively small a task as it is, and not the monumental one it could’ve been.
    Apple’s last post: Getting back into my WoW groove

    • CassandriNo Gravatar says

      The amount of land, businesses and properties affected by the flooding in Queensland (and perhaps even New South Wales in the near future) this summer might take you by surprise. Australia is a pretty big place, and Queensland is a big chunk of land. That’s part of why I felt so distant from flooding happening “up north” in my own state: it’s just so far away.

      It’s almost a shame that so many people overseas are getting their first view of our corner of the world while it looks so overcast, rainy, muddy and dreadful :(

  7. JanyaaNo Gravatar says

    Wow, I’m glad to hear you’re safe. I have an Australian guildie that has been facing floodwaters as well. Thanks for letting us all know you’re ok!

    Good luck. Hopefully things will get back to normal for you soon.

  8. GendaNo Gravatar says

    So sorry to hear that you are affected by the flood. I’m glad that it wasn’t a total catastrophe though. Best wishes from here in Texas to you and yours for a quick repair and a normalized life again.

    Stay safe.
    Genda’s last post: Vanguard Crafters is Closed

  9. NaithinNo Gravatar says

    Goodness, Cass.

    Hearing these stories is so unreal. It’s the sort of stuff that happens in movies or far off places, and if I had to pick a country least likely to have issues with flooding, off the top of my head I would’ve said Australia.

    Had been talking to Keeva a wee bit, but I had no idea you were in the danger zone as well. I actually thought you and Lath were in NZ for some reason actually.

    In any event, I’m glad that it sounds you’ve escaped safe and relatively unscathed financially as well. I wish you the best in being able to return to your home safe and sound soon and that everything returns to some sense of normalcy before too long.

    My thoughts will be with you til we get some confirmation this is the case!
    Naithin’s last post: Jar of Ancient Remedies- An Analysis

  10. red cowNo Gravatar says

    Very glad to hear you’re ok. Stay safe and we will see you when you get back!
    red cow’s last post: Review- Uldum

  11. ShadedmedicNo Gravatar says

    Dear Cass,
    Good to see your doing ok and your home is going to survive those dreaded floods, your guildmates have been thinking of you, Lath, and your families hoping that you were all ok.

  12. VidyalaNo Gravatar says

    I’m glad to hear you guys are okay! And Lath’s news! …that we didn’t hear! But but – what a horrible thing for so many people to be going through. :( I’m thinking of you all!
    Vidyala’s last post: One year and One Month- A Blogaversary!

  13. StewNo Gravatar says

    “Never did I think my own city and my own home would flood”.

    Erm… It flood majorly a few years back. http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/668494/another-storm-threatens-brisbane

    • CassandriNo Gravatar says

      In my mind the two incidents are miles apart. The storm that hit The Gap and surrounds a few years back was terrible but I wouldn’t call it a flood.

      Or should I say: “Flood? That’s not a flood. THIS is a flood.”

  14. RhiiNo Gravatar says

    Yikes, I’m so glad the water didn’t get any higher – one floor is bad enough. :(

    However, I’ve been progressively more and more relieved as I see all the Australian bloggers and twitter friends I follow saying they’re okay and they’re away from the worst of the flooding.

    Hope you’re holding out alright, and that you’re able to get home soon(ish).

  15. CitadelNo Gravatar says

    Thanks for posting Cass, its a big relief to hear that you and Lath are alright!
    We’ve been thinking about all you Qld guildies, and as bad as it is you’ve lost your ground floor, its great news that the water stopped where it did.

    Hoping for a swift return to normalcy for you, Lath, and all of Queensland.

  16. Wishing you a speedy and safe home coming. It’s been heart breaking to see from this side of the world. Hoping Australia heals soon. xx

  17. RuuneNo Gravatar says

    Good to hear that you got out in plenty of time and have managed to save much of your “stuff”. Lord knows that plenty weren’t as fortunate.

  18. CassabereeNo Gravatar says

    Glad to hear you and Landri have survived mostly unscaved. Hope all gets back to normal for you and the other victims of the flooding soon. =)

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