Thursday, November 27, 2008

And the waters came

Last Thursday morning, JR and I were rudely awoken by what we thought was some stoopid person's car alarm going off. By the third sounding of the alarm, I stomped out of bed, went to the curtains to *see* the stoopid car and stoopid person with my very own 4am eyes. I looked out into our street, and noticed flashing. And water in the middle of the street. Gee, the drain's not dealing well with the rain tonight, I thought. The drain right out the front of our house ...
Something else weird occurred to me, and made me turn on some lights and look downstairs. And what I saw was brown, not the lovely terracotta tile brown, but tidal river silt mud brown. I woke up John, and our day started, at 4am, in PJs, police siren going off in the street, with a couple of inches of water throughout our downstairs. We went downstairs to look at the damage (luckily? the power was still on, and our lights were fine). Boxes, bookshelves, scrapbooking gear, photos, newspaper, hidden presents, piano ... all already wet. I pulled some scrapbooking stuff up onto tables and onto chairs, and resigned myself to rest being wet and gone. John looked at what was in the big room, including his piano. We came back upstairs and looked out at the street. We noticed neighbours on their verandahs, looking out at one another. What to do?? We also noticed people moving their cars -what a good idea! JR's Mustang is pretty low; so we moved the cars up to the next street, much higher than our house. I packed an evacuation bag for M, in case we had to send her off to .. somewhere ... grandparents, I suppose.
I suddenly thought that if the water got much higher my four power sort boxes (each with about 2400 photos in them) and however many completed albums were not going to be safe, so I started taking them to my car, ready to be evacuated with M if necessary. Somewhere in all of that, I texted a few family members who use their mobiles. We rang the SES or Emergency Services - we'd had no instructions from the police, and didn't know if we needed to evacuate. They had no instructions for us. What should we do??

The water got to about 4 bricks up, around 5 or so inches. At some point Mum arrived to help out. Sometime after 5/5:30, we could tell the water was going down. I got help from a neighbour to sweep the water out, together with JR and Mum. Some phone calls to Ann & Derwent, Dad read his SMS, and soon we had lots of helping hands to sweep, mop, wring, lay out, move, throw.
Dad brought a trailer. Two loads of now rubbish were taken to the dump. Brett decided to skip the cricket, and Lexie brought over some of their handy equipment (Brett's better stocked than Bunnings).
M slept until after 7. When she woke up, I skipped out on the clean up to focus on her. She was so excited to wake up to a house with MorMor, Grandma and Grandad in it! :)
Thank goodness for daycare, I took her in to the centre, got coffee for the troops on the way home, and joined back in with the cleaning effort. We cleaned all day. Again and again in some cases, the floor just not drying before we once again trudged dirty shoes across i. I got vicious with what I threw out; luckily my Dad looked through some of what he pulled out of the trailer at the dump ... my birth certificate and BA degree were in one of the folders I refused to look through, as I didn't want to agonise over every piece of wet paper.

Thursday night was promising another big storm, so we had to try to get what we could dry, and UP, but then also pack it away or inside before the next deluge. Thanks to our family and friends, we got it done, but on Thursday night I wasn't able to greet the pinging sound of the rain on our iron roof with my usual glee. We survived Thursday night's storm without any further flooding.
Friday and the rest of the weekend were filled with cleaning up (oh, and a work Christmas party Friday night, which did little to help *ahem* energy levels on Saturday!), but at a slower pace, and again, with friends and family helping. Brisbane was meant to get a BIG storm on Saturday night, which luckily did not eventuate.
At this stage, JR's piano is the biggest item that is a write-off. Strings got wet, and the piano tuner/repair man said the repair job would be equivalent to the worth of the piano, with an unpredictable result. We're waiting for the insurance assessor to inspect our house still. Oh, and the weirdest thing - we left the bottom of a big bookshelf/display case from my CM studio in the front yard on Saturday. It went missing. From inside the fence line.

After all this stress, worry, and cleaning (anyone will tell you it's not my favourite activity - I'd rather iron than clean!), we are still grateful:

  • for our house still being habitable, and not needing to move out
  • for losing mainly "things", and nothing too super precious (yes, we'll miss some of those things for some time, but things are not our life)
  • for not having carpet anywhere, and lots of towels and terry nappies for mopping, cleaning, and wiping feet on
  • for not losing our roof or having the massive Moreton Bay Fig from next door falling on our house
  • for having wonderful friends and family who we can text/call in the wee hours of the morning and will take the day off work or not go to the cricket when they have a BOX organised, and borrow equipment from friends to help us out, and not want anything more than a hug in thanks (and yes, if my house ever floods again, I will call you, and call more of you, not just text like three people at 4:30am)
  • for the stinky mud silty creek water not being in our house for that long (yeah, it still smells, but not as bad as if we still had stinky water in the house)
  • for the conditions not being a repeat of the 1974 flood, because everything would have been under stinky water!


Laetitia :-) said...

What?! Only 4 PS boxes? We have at least 6 - and that's just the stuff that's been sorted! In between music rehearsals and unofficially studying a number of things this weekend, I'll be doing our Whitsundays trip in the new expandable PicFolio.

The real bummer would be replacing decorative products that are deleted. That and getting reprints if your neg's get destroyed. Remember that flash flood in March 2000? Six months later we found a missing box of photos and neg's in the shed - talk about stink! That was before CM came into my life.

Did you lose photos and / or neg's?

I have found something that will just about drown every other smell - a new (calico) futon mattress for a couch. We got one in April and despite the cans of hairspray and deodorant some boarders went through over a few months, that room still smells of calico (though a lot less strongly). If you need to get rid of muddy water smell, see if someone can lend you a reasonably new calico futon. :-)

Char said...

I'm so glad you're all OK and that the cleaning is done. I'm sorry JR lost his piano...that has to hurt.

Thinking of you...

KT said...

@ Laetitia
We have lost photos and negs may be wet/damaged. Photos were rinsed in clean water, and put into zip lock bags in teh freezer. I also had about 1000 printed pics sitting on the floor in one of the reusable shopping bags, waiting to be sorted. At least they're all digital.
Any negs I have issues with, I'll take to Photo Continental, they were great last time I discovered water damaged negs and pics at my Mum's house (shame file: and then confiscated all of her pics and negs, some of which ended up getting flooded last week).
And yes, I could easily have more PS boxes, but the hard drive (and external hard drive) are helping out there! ;)

@ Char - thanks. JR was concerned that the Mustang would get damaged (water did get inside, yet to get a mechanic to check it, but have dried it out) and that between the car and the piano, his two most precious things downstairs would be destroyed.
Though he has said at least for now he can blame any off notes on the condition of the piano! ;)