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This is a question The Apocalypse

Power cuts, internet outages, mild inconvenience to your daily lives - how did you cope? Tell us your tales of pointless panic buying and hiding under the stairs.

thanks, ringofyre

(, Thu 14 Jun 2012, 14:15)
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Drought breaks with Flood ...
Here in sunny Brisbane, Australia, we don't often have much to complain about weatherwise.

Four years ago, the worst problem was how lovely and sunny it was. All the fucking time. No rain worth mentioning for almost two years. Wivenhoe Dam, our supply of drinking water, got down to 14% capacity spawning a God awful bum splat plague because the last few percent of drinking water was little better than mud.

Water restrictions were introduced. They started off with;

Level 1 water restrictions: Don't water your garden during the heat of the day. Why not? Because all the fucking water will evaporate you fool! That's why! Pardon me B3tans, but first generation Brits (of which I am one) were the worst offenders. No concept of a drought at all.

The restrictions quickly escalated through to Level 6: Each household restricted to 140 litres per person per day with a ruinous fine and supply cut off for a day in punishment. To put that in perspective, a load of washing was 160 litres. The joke at the time was under Level 7 restrictions you could only water the garden with your own tears.

The odd thing about this Apocalyse was the slow burn effect. Unlike earthquakes, tsunamis and bush fires, there was no PANIC PANIC PANIC! Grab the kids, the photo albums and find the fucking cat! Things were just steadily getting worse and we were all saying loudly with forced cheer that the Rains will be along any day now and quietly wondering just how much longer we could hold out.

And then, the Rains came! It was early December 2010. We ran about in the backyard chasing our naked giggling children drenched to the skin. We were wet, warm and perfectly happy. Oh the joy! The sweet relief! The IMPENDING DOOM!

We got over our celebrations pretty darn quick when the Rains settled in for six long weeks.

The Wivenhoe dam was back up to 100% within a week. And then 125%. And then 150%. My husband works in the electricity industry (much of Brisbane's electricity is supplied by the dam) so he was privy to the growing concern in the industry. Would the dam hold? What was it's maximum capacity? The dam was built in the 1970's and had never been tested by this volume of water.

After three weeks of rain we were at 175% and rising fast.

The greatest problem was the mindset entrenched by the severity of the water restrictions only a few weeks ago. As a result, water releases from the dam were considered Sacrilege.

It's water! More precious than gold! Must keep!

And then it was Christmas. Most senior management went off on two weeks holiday. This seemed quite reasonable at the time. Unfortunately, there were precious few junior staff left guarding the switch and no instruction on how to cope with what happened next. My husband would return home each night after that Christmas looking grimmer and grimmer. He quietly let me in on his concerns and asked me where I would go with the kids if the dam burst. I told him he was being melodramatic. But I did stock up on batteries, toilet paper and casks of drinking water (oh the irony!)

Five weeks of rain and one week after Christmas. Dam was at 200% capacity. Water releases are ordered. The spotlight of attention from the media and the State Government was (quite rightly) on the north of the state where the Rains had already translated into Floods and massive relief efforts were underway.

I felt so safe here in Brisbane. We lasted through the Drought. The Rains will stop soon. It's okay.

3... 2... 1! Happy New Year 2011!! Yay. Drink champagne, make a few calls, go to sleep with the rain hammering on the roof. When will it stop raining!

The first indication that the floodgates of Hell had opened came on Tuesday 11 January 2011 in the sixth week of the Rains. It started like any other day. It was fucking raining! The first sign that something was wrong was a lack of signal on my mobile phone when I tried to check in with my husband.

Odd, I thought.

Then I overheard a whispered conversation between two shop employees. "The city has been evacuated."

Which city? I wondered. I assumed they had family in one of the many cities in the flooded North.

I got home, the phone rang. It was my mother. She told me that the city being evacuated was Brisbane. She was heading home. I wished her luck and told her to call me as soon as she could. I called my husband at his office. No answer. I tried his mobile. No signal. I checked the email. Nothing.

I turned on the news. Fuck. Me. Devastation on an indescribable scale. I heard the words of the Hindenburg announcer. "Oh the humanity." So sudden and so devastating.

Acts of stupidity and bravery abounded. A car park in Toowoomba was rapidly flooding. One guy waded through fast flowing shin deep water to save his car. His fucking car. The water was covering its wheels as he started the motor and the car was being shunted by the floodwaters as he drove off just in time. Fucking leave it! I was shouting at the TV. It's insured! Just get out!

A 12 year old boy was one of the first to die. He was trapped on the roof of a car and insisted that the rescuers take his mother and 8 year old brother first.

The piers along the Brisbane River used by the city's Rivercats (public transport catamarans) broke loose and were heading out to sea. The Storey Bridge, biggest bridge in Brisbane, was right in their way. I watched the bravest man in the world, a tugboat captain, damn near burn out the engine on his livelihood by skilfully nudging these twenty tonne pieces of wreckage so that they turned sideways and speared out to sea, sparing the bridge and the thousands of people trapped on it. I never found out his name.

The next five hours were the longest of my life. This Atheist briefly found God and prayed earnestly for the safe return of her beloved husband. "Oh, and if you've got time God, please try and help out my Mum too".

When my husband arrived at the door, drookit, solemn and exhausted, I felt the most intense sensation of relief of my life. He had walked 15 kilometers to get home, some of it through fast running water.

His story was of an entire city's rapid descent into chaos. He saw people punching each other for a place in a queue 150 deep waiting for buses and trains that never came. The Army was on the ground. Evacuation centers were being established. We offered to put up a family who had lost their home.

My Mum's still caught in that, I thought.

Two hours later, the phone rang. It was Mum, almost hysterical with relief. Her house was fine. Her cat was pissed at her. All was well. For us at least.

And after all that, I realise that we were very lucky. Wivenhoe Dam peaked at 225% capacity. If it had burst, Moses himself couldn't have parted those waters. Brisbane would have been washed away. Like vast swathes of Japan only a few months later. We lost 35 people. Mostly folks trapped in their cars by the rising floodwaters. Some were children ripped from their parent's arms by Mother Nature at her most merciless and indifferent.

And there were sharks. Mother fucking bull sharks heading upstream, eating the dead and dying. God I love Australia.
(, Tue 19 Jun 2012, 2:34, 13 replies)
I reckon there's worse to come. I helped clean up mud for three days, as did most of the city's population.

All the thousands of 44 gallon drums of petrochemical weirdness from around the Rocklea area disappeared into the flood, only to wash downstream and leach nasty stuff into the floodwaters.

The mud that we were spraying off buildings contained any amount of toxins, raw sewerage, bits of dead animals (and probably people) and various shitty chemicals.

I reckon ther's going to be a cancer cluster in about 10 years in Brisbane, as all those volunteers were exposed to some rather nasty stuff.

And, I know of one person who was particulaly distressed, because it looked like Merlo coffee shop at Paddington might run out of milk. Thankfully supplies got through in the end, although it was touch and go there for a while.

And the Bull Sharks ended up hanging around bus stops, picking off commuters as they boarded the bus for work. And people call them stupid animals eh?
(, Tue 19 Jun 2012, 3:18, closed)
Don't worry Ken ...
you're too tough for that. Cancer's feart of the likes of you. Thanks a ton for helping with the clean up whilst lily livered cowards whined about the dratted inconvenience of it all.
(, Tue 19 Jun 2012, 6:52, closed)
'kin' 'ell!
Best head here www.henleyontodd.com.au/ for the races then this year.
"Queensland, perfect one day...."
(, Tue 19 Jun 2012, 3:45, closed)
does "drookit" mean?
(, Tue 19 Jun 2012, 3:54, closed)
Pardon ...
I'm Scottish. Drookit means soaked to the skin.
(, Tue 19 Jun 2012, 6:53, closed)
To answer the question of who the tugboat dude is
(, Tue 19 Jun 2012, 4:22, closed)
this was awesome and weird at the same time.
i go to a small festival in the village of wivenhoe, uk most years.
(, Tue 19 Jun 2012, 8:40, closed)
You brought a tear to my eye, so you get a click

(, Tue 19 Jun 2012, 10:19, closed)
I clicked 'I like this'
because there wasn't a 'Holy Fucking Shit' button.

Well told.
(, Tue 19 Jun 2012, 12:08, closed)
my sentiments
(, Tue 19 Jun 2012, 12:19, closed)

Ah, Queensland, Beautiful one Day, Perfect the next.

Or was that "Japanese the next"?

If you still had Joh running the place, none of those disasters would dare happen without his permission (or without bribing him).
(, Tue 19 Jun 2012, 13:13, closed)
Saturday 26 January 1974
I was there. It was higher than in 2010. I was working at the Main Roads Laboratory at 35 Butterfield Street, Herston (opposite the hospital) on the Friday 25th. I parked my car up the hill, might have been on Garrick Terrace and walked down to the laboratory.

There were hundreds of bags of soil samples stored under the lab building and two or three of us spent hours carrying them into the lab and stacking them on the benches.

About noon, the staff began to suggest that some of the more delicate laboratory equipment - spectrophotometers, the computer terminal and other things that could be easily unplugged and carried should be placed in some of the cars and taken up to the head office on the top of Spring Hill. Likewise paper files should be removed. This was considered to be a bad idea by management.

The laboratory vehicles were parked out the back, at a lower level than the street. As the water rose, the asphalt on the car park began to bulge as air displaced from the soil below it bubbled the surface. It was like walking on a mattress. They could not deny that the car park was going to flood so the cars were driven away.

When the front yard of the lab began to flood some of the staff got toey. But management refused to allow staff to leave until regular quitting time, which was 4.51pm. By that time there was 4 or 5 feet of water at the bottom of the front steps and staff got out by walking along the top of a concrete wall and out onto the street, where the water was only three feet deep.

I left a pair of shoes on top of one of the lab benches along with an umbrella, it was pointless carrying it as I was already wet through.

On the Monday the water had gone down. I arrived at the lab to find that the water had reached about 18 inches above the level of the lab benches and all the hundreds of soil samples were soaked. The spectrophotometers and computer terminal were of course ruined and all the paper files and books were pulp.

The shoes I had left were still in the same place and dry inside. They had floated up and down, they must have been waterproof.

About 9am we were all rounded up and taken over to the hospital where we all got tetanus shots.

Some years later I went for another one and the doctor asked me when I'd had my last one. I said "28 January 1974" and he said that he knew where I had been.

If you cross the Indooroopilly Bridge, on the Indooroopilly side, just upstream on Radnor Street there was a block of flats, three stories plus basement garage. That belonged to Jim B. a Yorkshireman who was a friend of my fathers. Only the top floor escaped flooding. The flats had parquet floors and we spent Sunday 27 January hosing the flats out, then shovelling the parquet tiles up and tossing them out the windows. Kitchen cabinets were full of mud. At noon, somebody went and got a pizza. I had a slice, it was the first pizza I had ever eaten.

The house next door to Jim's had been featured in the Woman's Weekly a few months before, it was new and had been built by one of the Parer family, relatives of Damien Parer who had been awarded an Oscar for his Kokoda Front Line! New Guinea documentary from WWII. It had been completely submerged and the back yard swimming pool was full of mud.

The house my parents had been offered a couple of years before was just around the corner from where I lived. My mother had refused to even look at it as she said it was in a gully and close to the Bne. River. "Oh, there's never been any water here" said the estate agent. On Friday night, 25 January it was completely submerged and the street lamp opposite it could be seen reflecting off water just a couple of feet below the light bulb.

Never build, buy or even rent on a flood plain. Seize the high ground.
(, Tue 19 Jun 2012, 13:42, closed)
Whilst I am not a tin foil hat level climate change denier ...
I am a proud skeptic. 1974 was a year of extreme weather events. Floods in Brisbane, Cyclone Tracy flattened Darwin and over in Blighty it was the worst heatwave on record. I'm a big believer in the 11-12 year solar cycle wreaking havoc with the weather.

Of course it could be my fault, I was born in 1974 bring a bagful of woe with me. My mum still complains that she had to sit halfway up the stairs with her feet in a bucket of water whilst heavily pregnant with me.
(, Wed 20 Jun 2012, 0:34, closed)

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