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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Anna Bligh kicked my Yasi"

Recent inclement weather in Queensland has rebooted the old memory banks of our experiences during Cyclone Yasi.

The school year had only just begun and with the Category Four system bearing down on North Queensland we were all asked to batten down our classrooms, tape up the windows and were compassionately sent home for the remainder of the week.

Jonah was still home from University and in his usual panic-merchant custom rang me in a highly distressed state.

“Mum! Have you seen what’s heading towards us? It’s a bloody monster! Should we be evacuating?”

Jonah is a wee bit of a control freak and will make an excellent lawyer.
“Mum! I think you and Scott and the babies (Padraic sixteen, Lulu fourteen and Hagar eighteen) should come over to Dad’s and take shelter in the wine cellar.”

Now if the said “wine cellar” was an air-conditioned, fully stocked, subterranean paradise instead of the dank, musty, redback spider infested reality that it was, I may have relinquished.

“She’ll be right Jonah,” I answered nonchalantly.

“Mum! You’re not taking this seriously enough. We could all be wiped off the planet!”


We stocked up on baked beans and powdered milk (after chucking out the old packets from when the last cyclone threatened), taped the windows, bought candles, torches and batteries and cleaned up the yard.

On the afternoon before Yasi crossed the coast we were all ensconced in the lounge room watching updates on Channel Ten. I felt sorry for all the junior reporters standing in the rain saying the same thing over and over.

I got a bit bored.

“Feel like a wine?” I enticed Scotto.

I know it’s irresponsible to get pissed when there is a natural disaster impending but I was losing interest in the whole thing.

Hagar had refused to come home and had been riding his bike around in the tempestuous weather refusing to answer my texts but I’d managed to hunt him down, capture him and force him back home. 

Everyone was accounted for.

We continued to blearily guzzle wine for the rest of the evening until at about eleven o’clock when I heard Anna Bligh say something horribly frightening on the telly.

“We’ve just had a report that a boy was knocked over by an eighteen metre wave off the coast and that an eighteen metre surge is heading towards the North Queensland coast.” 

The deaf signer was frantically gesticulating beside her.

What was a boy doing swimming in the ocean during a cyclone? I pondered fuzzily, what was his mother thinking letting him go out on a night like this?

Hang on! An eighteen metre surge! 

Tragic visions of the Japanese tsunami flooded my mind.

Urgently waking up all of the kids, we started earnestly moving our worldly goods upstairs. Farfel the lorikeet was rehoused in a smaller cage, the dogs were brought up to the upstairs bathroom and the cat locked in the toilet. 

After countless treks up and down the stairs my 8765 books were rescued as well as all the televisions and moveable electronic appliances. 

Hagar was very pissed off at being disturbed and protested bitterly throughout the entire procedure.

Roughly ten minutes after we finished our epic labours we heard Anna Bligh announcing that there was no eighteen metre surge and that the ‘boy’ in the ocean had been inverted and had provided an invalid reading.

Oooooh… a buoy!

Anyway, the German Shepherd drove us mental barking at his reflection in the bathroom mirror all night and the cat almost got hold of the bird. 

Apart from that we all survived.

Jonah bullied his father and Thaddeus into sleeping in the wine cellar all night and none of them got a wink of sleep.

The masking tape is still powerfully gummed on Padraic’s windows two years later. 
Gives our house a decidedly bogan panache.