Monday, January 17, 2011

Flooded in ... the big adventure!

View of the flooded Brisbane river, just 100m up from my house
All photos taken by my neighbour Phil Roth
I've been away having an intimate experience with the Queensland floods! Not actually flooded - my house is up on a ridge and even if the dam upstream broke I don't think the water would reach me. But from last Tuesday there was no access out of this area at all - all roads heavily flooded, all bridges under meters of water. I'd gone into work on Tuesday morning, but after a couple of hours, decided I needed to get home while I still could. It was a very hair-raising drive back through sheeting rain, with water running over the road, and rising up under bridges, but I made it!

This is about 600m back from where previous photos of the Kholo bridge on
this blog were taken! This is how far the river has risen since then!!
It was nearly 1k wide when this was taken.
The electricity went out on Tuesday afternoon.  I kind of assumed that it was a 'normal' blackout and would be back on in a few hours' time ... Wrong! The next morning I discovered the phone had gone too. And, infuriating - the battery on my mobile was flat! The only contact I had with the outside world (apart from neighbours) was my iPad, which luckily was charged. So I was able to send emails to let people know I was OK, though I had to limit use of it to make the battery last. But thank god for the iPad - I'm so glad I got one, and so glad I got the slightly more expensive one with 3G capability!

Another problem for people living semi-rurally like me is that when the electricity goes down that usually means no water! All my water is tank/rainwater, and needs an electric pump to get it into the house! Plus there isn't a tap on the water tank (why, oh why?!!), so it's fairly inaccessible! Luckily on Tuesday afternoon when the electricity went, and it was raining really heavily, I managed to collect a lot of buckets of rainwater (they filled up so quickly!!). Had to resort to Indian-style bucket showers using the slightly green water from the pond (swimming pool turned into a pond a couple of years ago!) - but hey, better than nothing!

This is a few of a street (Skyline Drive) just 4 houses away. The river is normally
not visible but right next to the hills in the distance. The water you can see is the
river level spreading up the valley!
So, I did things around the house, did yoga on my back verandah, and read a lot of books. Luckily there are lots of books here - and this experience has definitely convinced me that no way am I converting 100% to eBooks!!! Did a bit of gardening - but was attacked by a lot of ants, so retreated inside again! The fridge and freezer obviously defrosted. Luckily I have quite a lot in the pantry cupboard, including milk powder (for bread-making) so food was never a problem. And at night I'd sit there reading with a book in one hand, candle in the other!!

By about Thursday I discovered my neighbour Phil (who took these photos) had a generator and he charged my iPhone and iPad for me which was great! Back in phone communication with the rest of the world! We had been so cut-off  I told my mother in NSW that she knew more about what was going on that I did!!

Heaps of helicopters flying around - this was probably a medevac one, landing in a paddock just a few meters away, lots of others to check how the river flooding was going. In case I hadn't mentioned this - there is a big dam a few ks upstream of me. This was built partly to prevent Brisbane flooding again (huge floods in 1974, with wooden houses floating down the river!) and partly for Brisbane water supply. But the dam had been allowed to get too full and so they had to keep releasing water from it via the floodgates. This was why the bridges etc were flooded - but apparently at the flood peak, the dam water level was only 90 centimeters below something that would have triggered huge floods and possibly the dam wall breaking!!

Anyway, finally on Friday evening I heard that the Kholo Creek bridge on the back road was finally passable again. Note: this is not the 'Kholo Bridge' - which has featured in many recent photos on this blog, including one in this post further up. That one goes over the Brisbane river which is the main flood-affected one. On the back way out to Brisbane there is another bridge over 'Kholo Creek', which has water coming into it from the D'Aguillar range and goes into the Brisbane river. And that had been about 4m under from the amount of water coming down plus the Brisbane river flood! I don't actually think the Kholo Bridge, which is/was my normal way out, will be usable again for weeks! It's still so far under that they can't measure it!!

So the next morning I went 'out' into the western edges of Brisbane. Had a shower at my aunt's place (hoorraayy!),  put some washing on there and charged my phone and iPad again. Did some supermarket shopping and managed (at the 3rd petrol station I went to) to join a queue to get some petrol. Came home, still to no electricity (but the phone had come back on Friday) but much better prepared.

And yesterday I went out to join in the clean-up. Ended up in the Brookfield Garden Centre - which had been completely submerged. You could see from the colouring/marks on the bamboo in the carpark that the water must have been at least 4m high there! And then when I got home - fantastic, the electricity was back on!! Such a relief!

Uni is closed till Thursday so I don't have to go back to work till then. I know my building didn't get flooded (luckily as it's the IT centre and we already went through a data centre fire a few months ago and all the disruption that caused!!) I know the yoga shala is opening again today, but with the roads and all, I think I'll leave it till Saturday before I go back to class. There's always my verandah here to do yoga, or inside if it gets too hot. (32degC forecast for today so I think it'll be inside possibly with the aircon on!) And maybe I can get back to the garden at cooler times of the day! We'll see - with electricity so much more seems possible 〈grin〉


Ronni Gordon said...

Wow, that is some adventure.

Thanks for the first-hand reporting! Glad you are so resourceful and glad you got a lot of reading done and did your yoga.

Globie said...

Glad to hear you have power & phone again.

I almost bought an Ipad the other week, giant new Apple Store in Covent Garden, but decided to wait for the next generation with its webcam for skype (that's the runour)

chopperlilly said...

Hello Susie, I hope you don't mind me contacting you. My name is Angela and I live in London, I found your blog when searching for news on the floods and how it affected Kholo.
My family was one of the first families in Skyline Drive. I lived in number 88 for 16 years and when my parents sold it in 1998 I was heartbroken. I have been living in London 10 years but I have never found another place to call home like Kholo. I was wondering if you knew if my old house got flooded (no. 88), next door to The Evans. I heard the McPhersons got flooded, I'm sure their house wasn't as far back as ours. Also do you know the Myatts, they live on Skyline Drive too?
Hope you don't mind me messaging you like this, but I don't know how else to find out if my beloved house is OK...and how is life in Kholo these days? I think of it all the time....
Angela :)
ps. you can email me at


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