Monday, April 07, 2008

After the storm

We were lucky. The almighty storm that ripped through Melbourne last Wednesday spared us the damage and inconvenience that so many have experienced in its wake. The gale-force winds ripped off roofs, tore limbs from trees, cut off electricity to thousands across the city – some for many days – and blew down brick walls and construction scaffolding. In the last two instances, two people were killed.

In the aftermath, an electricty company linesman was killed while trying to make repairs to the line down in the Mornington Peninsular.
Now, some papers are attributing the death of an elderly woman in a house fire to the prolonged electricity outage caused by the storm – the house is thought to have caught fire from a candle used for lighting.

Compared to that, the troubles at our house were minimal. We lost electricity for most of the afternoon of the storm and had debris strewn around our backyard. I was at work while my partner had the kids at home. She returned from an early afternoon trip to the shop to find the picnic sun canopy we'd erected to shade the kids in the backyard was nearly blowing away, but she was able to disassemble it single-handedly!

Besides witnessing the eerie orange glow in the sky in the early afternoon, which turned out to be a massive dust storm, and watching tree branches tear across the street below my office window (1 floor up), and hearing ominous sounds from our building's roof, the worse I got while at work was getting dust in my eyes at lunch time and getting wet in the rain dashing for my tram home.
I managed to squeeze myself on a very crowded tram. It must have been quite delayed through a very congested city – the sodden state of some passengers was a testament to their long wait for the tram.

In this context, it's strange to re-read my comment on about the escalating and increasingly dangerous changes of global warming in my previous post about weather forecasting.

Kid's mural in North FitzroyI took the photo above of a mural that appeared on the back fence of a house backing on to a park in North Fitzroy. I'm sure it was a kids' project for the school holidays. When I first saw this mural from the tram heading home from work, I was struck by the cheery scene on that wet evening – a couple of days before the storm. There was also a real rainbow in the sky, and for just a moment the real and painted rainbows were visible together. I hope it cheers up those who have suffered damage in the storm, or damage and in inconvenience from the power outage.

And let's spare a thought for the men and women – many of them volunteers – who worked very hard to clean up the damage and help those injured or endangered by the storm, and the power company workers who are working
long hours in dangerous conditions to get the power back on. I hope there are rainbows where you are to cheer you up.

You can find a lot of photos of the storm and its aftermath on flickr here.

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