24 April 2015

Super Storm of NSW

Much of the beach was eroded away by the stormy sea
It had rained most of the day on Monday, 20 April, the last day of school holidays for our students.  We didn't think anything of it, as that happens often here this time of year.  Dave came home soaked so we set up the heater to dry his shoes and bag for the next day, before going to bed.  We went to sleep with the sound of the rain and howl of the strong winds. 
At 10:30pm, there was a sharp "snap" and the power went out.  The wind continued to howl and the rain pour down.  By 4:30 am, I woke up to find my mobile phone had no reception - SOS only.  Right then, I knew Dave wasn't going to work on Tuesday.  By 6am, we were up accessing the situation.  There was enough hot water in the water heater for 2 showers (hot water heaters make hot water at night only).  We decided to eat all the perishable food from our refrigerator.  So Dave made hot chocolate on the camp stove and  yeast pancakes using up our milk were next.

High Tides and Storm Surge resulted in Lochrane Lagoon
being naturally opened by the Ocean.
We had no power and no phone service all day Tuesday.  We listened to the news in the car.  We took a walk and saw the beach had been eroded from the shore.  Also many trees were knocked down by the roots - the rain loosened the soil and the wind blew it over - in many instances on top of power lines.  Some homes had trees fall on them.  Several thousand calls for help were placed to State Emergency Services (SES).  We discovered it was not possible to get out of MacMasters Beach as the roads were blocked in each direction by fallen trees.  
The Scenic Road and Cullens Road were 2 roads closed because
of fallen trees and downed power lines
The forecast for Tuesday was "the worst is yet to come".  More rain and high winds forecast.  The meteorologist reported we had conditions equal to a Category 2 Cyclone.  The ocean was removing the sand from the beach and pushing it to the shore.  Cochrane Lagoon had been opened naturally by the extreme tides and storm surge.
Power lines cut by fallen trees

On Wednesday morning Dave stayed home from work again as the trains were still a mess and we weren't sure if the roads leading out of the Macs were passable.  The meteorologist said the amount of rain received in 48 hours was 240mm with 14-40mm predicted to fall on Wednesday.  The winds had died down by that point.  The forecast also predicted sun on Thursday.
Wednesday morning we found we could get out, but finding petrol and open stores was a bit of a worry as many were without power so closed.  Dave drove to Woy Woy found petrol and bought a few groceries.  Dave was also able to get phone reception and sent a message to his work.  Later, I ventured out in search of petrol for my car and butane for our camp stove.  Filled the tank, but butane sold out.

Sand from the beach blown onto the road.

 Because classes were scheduled to resume after the school holidays on Tuesday, Tristan's  and Clara's schools were open for supervision only.  Neither of the high schools our students attend nor the primary school had power on Tuesday.  Tristan's school was running a generator.  Clara's school was declared non-operational on Wednesday and Thursday.  Tristan's school continued to be operational - but limited classroom instruction.  We visited Tristan's HS on Thursday and saw many Seniors making the most of the time available to get work done on their projects.  Power was restored to both high schools on Thursday.  On Friday, both Clara's and Tristan's HS were open for teaching.  The primary school had power restored on Thursday as well, however it has remained closed  to students from Tuesday through Friday. 
Downed trees prevented us from leaving MacMasters Beach

 Thursday morning started with sunrise....a wonderful start to the day.  Dave took a COLD shower and went to work.  I told the kids we were going to the Peninsula Leisure Centre for a swim and hot showers.  The older kids wanted to stay home and tried the shower in the kid condo - and were surprised to find HOT water.  Following our swim and showers, we had breakfast at MacDonalds.  While there, we received a message that power had been restored to a friend living on The Scenic road.  We raced home, to find we were still without power.

More storms on Tuesday night.
Dave called suggesting we get a new cooker since it could be a while without power and we were down to our last butane canister.  So Thursday night we used our new cooker to heat the water for dishes and cook our meal.
Our new cooker/firepit on Thursday.

 Friday morning Dave took another COLD shower.  Clara went to school.  I predicted we would have power by 11.  We went to a friend's house to help her since a tree had broken the roof over her daughter's bedroom.  The carpet was soaked as was much of the room contents.  We also moved tree limbs to the road for collection.

We took her out for coffee and a chat, while the boys bowled.

The power came on at noon!  So So relieved!

Kids enjoying our firepit.

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