Life Day By Day,  Life Matters

The Electricity Grind

A popular topic at present is the electricity grid, or should that be grind! It was all over the news recently when South Australia lost power on several occasions. There is nothing worse than the lights going out, when you want them on. There is nothing worse than a cold shower on a cold day or no shower; no dinner on the table; no ice for a cold drink; melting butter and meat because we are totally reliant on electricity.

Today, my mind goes to the people in North Queensland. The people who have been without power for days. So much of our world revolves around electricity. It will be days or weeks before power is restored in many towns because of Cyclone Debbie. Everyone, is talking about the weather, whether we should or not, or whether we are tired of talking about it or not. Talking about it can help, those who have been most affected need to talk, to cry and eventually recover. There will be some who will walk away, the journey of recovery is too great.

In 2013 a gum tree on our property in Maleny snapped and landed on the corner of our house
The safest place in an extreme weather event is inside our home or an evacuation centre. At the time this happened we were away. It is very stressful dealing with the aftermath of a storm.

I saw a picture of a house on television it was covered in tree branches. Holes were in the roof and rain would have been in the house. The owners are on an overseas holiday. Not only a home and possessions turned upside down, but lives. That is why insurance is essential, travel insurance and house/contents insurance. When we went to Tasmania last year we took out travel insurance, just in case. We did not need it but it was worth it, just for the peace of mind.

Cyclone Debbie landed in North Queensland and now there is a rain depression moving south. Following the carnage to homes, businesses and livelihoods there is now the threat of flooding rains. It rained all last night at our place in Toowoomba. We are familiar with extreme weather events and our reliance on electricity. When we lived in Maleny we had our own bio-cycle system (sewerage treatment plant); rain water tank and bore water. It all ran on electricity. If our electricity service went down, we had no lights, no water (unless we bailed it from the tank) and no cooking. We did have a small back-up with our gas BBQ. It pays to have a backup. For example, if we lose electricity in Toowoomba and it is winter we can light the fire. We can’t cook on top of our wood-fire, but we can cook food on our gas BBQ. Although, we would have no capacity to boil a kettle and enjoy a cup of tea if we lost power. Electricity powers up our world!

Last year my dentist recommended I buy an electric toothbrush. There are so many to choose from and it took me a few months before I bought one. Electric toothbrushes are great. Although, there is nothing more disconcerting when I am half way through cleaning my teeth and it stops going. The toothbrush battery can only be recharged with electricity. If the power went off and my toothbrush lost its charge I would not be able to clean my teeth. Wait, I know what you are thinking. Why not do it the old-fashioned way with a standard toothbrush. I do have one of these sitting beside my electric toothbrush, as a back-up. Just in case!

The electricity grid keeps us warm or cool, fed, bathed, and toileted. Where would be without it. At this very moment, the people in North Queensland could tell us. We could manage to go without electricity for a few days or a week but it is heart-breaking to have to go through the loss of power coupled with so much other loss, home, household possessions and income.

My experiences of extreme weather events are small in comparison to those in North Queensland. I was in Brisbane, visiting a friend in Wynnum, with my six-month-old son during the 1974 flood event.  We were cut off from other parts of Brisbane. I and my friend spent considerable time searching the local chemists to find the right baby formula. Later, I lived in a house at Fairfield that was completely covered during the 1974 flood. My O&O took time off work to help with the 1974 clean-up, houses full of mud, everything in its path destroyed. I was in Toowoomba in 2011 when we had what was called an “inland tsunami”. We had a doona at the dry-cleaners ready for pick up on the day of the heaviest rain and flash flooding. My O&O did not pick it up and just as well as the dry-cleaning business went under water. We said goodbye to our doona. Then about 5 months later we got a phone call telling us our doona was ready and we could pick it up! Resilience abounds in the lives of Queenslanders.

This was East Creek, Toowoomba, a few days before heavy rain and flash flooding on 10 January, 2011.
This was East Creek, Toowoomba on 10 January, 2011. The building to the left is an underground car park and in between the building and the cars is a road. Later in the afternoon, when the waters receded I drove home on this road. It was very eerie. Cars piled up on top of one another in unusual places, including the park. Police and emergency vehicles with lights flashing in the aftershock of the disaster. There was an unnerving quiet.

Due to the weather 2011 event, Toowoomba and the Darling Downs was cut off. The range crossing was impassable. My work role shifted whereby I was coordinating staff to help with Disaster Recovery. People willingly put up their hand to help those in need, leaving behind their own families. Their generosity was noted, acknowledged and applauded.

In the December 2010/January 2011 extreme weather event 35 people died in floodwaters. This time as Cyclone Debbie was bearing down on the Queensland Coast people were evacuated and moved to a safe place. There have been no confirmed deaths due to Cyclone Debbie. Though, there are two people missing.

This was at Echuca, October 2016, when the Murray River was in flood. We were visiting family in Shepparton at the time.

There is more rain on the way. The South-East has not seen the worst of it yet. There will be more flash flooding and dangerous conditions on the road. Schools in the South-East closed today and will stay closed tomorrow. Over 200 roads are cut off. This is a severe and serious weather event. Keep safe everyone and keep off the roads and out of flood waters. There is enough heart-break around dealing with the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie, without any loss of life or injury due to foolhardiness.

One Comment

  • bobwords2014

    That was a timely reminder of how weather events can upset the best-laid (electricity) plans although as we are seeing, the plans are not working very well). Good work!

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