Great lake views for a day
After living on a dairy farm in the Bexhill area for six years, I've been through a lot of floods and been flooded-in many times. Thanks to nearby Coopers Creek, it's not unusual to look out the front of our cottage and see the valley's rolling green paddocks transformed into a shining lake.
This time though, the lake was only 30 metres from our house and encroaching by the minute. I'd never seen the water rise up so far and for the first time since I'd moved in, I had to ask the question "Should I move my car?"
Ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, which had been wreaking havoc down the East Coast, was now doing it on my turf. All roads in and out were inundated with water and my partner and I settled in to be flooded-out and housebound, watching the wind create white caps on the lake that might have been surfable if we'd have been brave enough to venture out.
Being flooded in on a Monday public holiday isn't all bad. At least my house had electricity and I could watch TV, use the internet and keep tabs on what the river levels were doing while feeling sorry for households that had no electricity or water. Then the neighbours rang and told us we had no water because the electric pump that filled our water tank was three metres under water.
There's a certain irony to being surrounded by water but having none to shower with but buckets placed under the roof fill up quickly to allow us to flush toilet and do the dishes. If we wanted to, we could heat up water on the stove and fill a bath, like in the olden days. It's a lot of work, but hey, we've time on our hands.
As the day wore on, the roof groaned and made metallic clanging noises in the gale force wind. Water seeped through cracks in windows and doors and towels were used to sop up the mess. With every crash I heard outside, I'd put on my raincoat and brave the stinging hurricane to see what was going on. Plant pots on the veranda too heavy for me to lift were blown over by the force of the wind and every ornament I hadn't already brought inside was blown across the yard.
Ex-tropical cyclone? Imagine if it was a real cyclone!
With that scary thought I pushed the front door shut against the force of the wind and retreated inside, wondering how I could bake a cake without any eggs. At least we had plenty of soy milk and a loaf of bread.
By listening to ABC radio and with regular check-ins to Facebook, we watched the flood unfold through our friends' status updates about leaky roofs and stories of trees brought down by wind. People debated what the river flood level peak would be in Lismore and every now and then I wondered if this would be the one-in-a-hundred year flood. Maybe I would have to move my car.