Friday, April 7, 2017

A town down

If ever a picture told a thousand words, this picture of the floods in Edgecumbe, the Bay of Plenty NZ, taken yesterday by journalist Luke Appleby did and does. The whole town was evacuated to higher ground just in time before the river's flood-bank broke.

It was the tail end of Cyclone Debbie that flooded parts of Queensland earlier in the week and here is said to be a one in 500-year storm, with the flood-banks only built to take a one in one-hundred-year storm.

I guess global warming has made an arse of those figures, if it's fair to attribute such record-breaking natural disasters to that. I think it must be, but I'm no scientist.

Here in Auckland, two-hundred or so kilometres north of this town, the same night we experienced the heaviest rain we have ever experienced in our twenty-plus years at this address. It was so heavy that out walking after dinner in a momentary reprieve from the deluge, I heard a strange rumble in the near distance and wondered what it was. It sounded motorised. I dismissed it, but walked on, away from our house, a little faster just in case. But I didn't seriously think it could be rain. I had never heard rain that loud while walking under a dry sky.

Five seconds later I turned back, running for home, as the roar arrived in a stunning hurry, dumping a vertical tsunami of water on me - the only person fool enough to be out in it - drenching me through in about four seconds while I ran screaming for home. I didn't even have an umbrella.

We are on high ground here but it was still frightening, the sudden explosion of the skies and the intensity of the roar that came with it. You could swear there was attitude in that roar. Had I pissed off some god somewhere? More than likely.

Our garden flooded in parts but it drained off by morning. I don't know how people recover from this level of flooding -- the mud, the mess, the carpets, the walls -- but at least they got a warning and were able to evacuate in time. Hopefully the authorities realise they are going to be dealing with this sort of thing slightly more often than every 500 years and build stronger floodgates.

As for me, I will do what I can not to piss off the gods, and take an umbrella just in case.


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