Sunday, 6 March 2011

Yasi Part 1

Okay, here's the cyclone post.  It's taken a while to write because I wanted to get my thoughts in order so they made some sense... turns out that isn't going to happen so just skip over any bits that confuse you... my head is a bit fuzzy from this fluey thing I've got AGAIN (I started writing this ages ago).  I'm including a lot of the preparation we did because I'm pretty sure most people reading this haven't prepared for a cyclone before... and the days leading up to a cyclones predicted landfall are full of fun... kinda. Okay, mostly I wanted this as a record for the kids.

Tuesday Feb 1st.
Thankful that Tropical Cyclone Anthony over the weekend ended up being a fizzer because I was too sick to do any preparations, he was never going to be a big one so I knew we'd be fine.  At worst the power might go out for a few hours but we have torches and candles and a little camp stove.  But this one... well, Yasi is looking a little meaner.  I'm feeling a little better but if I had a choice I wouldn't be going shopping.  But I drop Monkey and Dragon off with Grannysaurus and Lion off at school and go in search of supplies.  More for our every day life rather than cyclone specific supplies.  Pretty much if you eat healthily and make most of your food from scratch, your pantry should contain every thing you need to make reasonable meals for a few days with only a gas stove.  However, it's been a while since I did any decent shopping so our pantry is rather scant at this point.  Before a cyclone the panic buyers come out in force.  At the first hint of Anthony coming, every tin of baked beans in Queensland was purchased and stashed away in a cupboard.  I hate to think what the shelves are looking like at the shops by this point... and they are saying the supermarkets (along with everything else) will be closed tomorrow because the high winds will have started and police want EVERYONE off the roads.  I get a hot tip telling me to head to the newest supermarket in town, I worry when I see the same hot tip on a friends comment thread on facebook... might not be so hot!  I head there anyway, it's bedlam.  There's a guy down the back, he's unpacking box after box of 1L bottles of water... they are practically being taken out of his hand as he tries to stack them.  I grab us some fruit.  There's plenty of fruit... PEOPLE, fruit doesn't HAVE to be kept in the fridge and its a darn sight tastier than baked beans!  As I browse the aisles getting my tins of tomatoes and bags of pasta I notice some interesting things... no one likes beef flavoured 2 minute noodles.  Every other flavour is gone but the beef ones are still all sitting there.  In the tinned foods aisle you cannot find a single can of soup (not that I wanted any) unless you want the last can left... creamed celery soup... I can understand why that's left.  Every tin of baked beans and spaghetti were gone, every tin of tuna was gone, every tin of 'chicken' was still left sitting on the shelf.  Obviously I'm not the only one that finds chicken in a tin a little weird.  I buy enough milk for today and tomorrow and assume that our power will be out after that.

I make it through the checkouts and get out a large amount of cash, if there's no power, there's no ATMs.

Eventually getting home I start the job of cleaning out our wardrobe.  It'll be the safest place in our house since it has no windows.  Between that and every day life, Tuesday passes pretty quickly.

Dinner Tuesday night, Monkey tried a spaghetti tan.

Wednesday Feb 2nd
Wolf has the day off.  Apparently this is the first time his work has shut down like this in 8 years.  The schools have closed for 2 days so Lion is home as well.  It's eerily quiet.  I know they said that the winds wouldn't start to pick up until midday but for some reason I expected things to be at least a little breezy in the morning.  I guess it's the calm before the storm.  I go in for a shower and scrub the bathtub so that at least if we have to fill it it wont have too much undesirable stuff floating it in... this tub does bathe 3 BOYS every night.  We make our plan of attack, they are saying there is a good chance we'll be without water for a little while so Wolf gets the fun job of getting through the dishes and the clothes that need to be washed.  The kids get told that if they don't clean up their toys that Yasi will blow them all down the street (stellar parenting moment there).  I get back to work on the wardrobe... now called "The Bunker".  We have a reasonably large wardrobe, we really don't need a wardrobe that large so over the last 7 1/2 years of living here a lot has been stashed in there simply because it doesn't have anywhere else to go... it has to find places NOW.  I am determined to strip the bunker bare and then build it back up with what we need.  Clothes get hung in other cupboards, suitcases get filled with whatever they can and shoved in the garage, books get put on bookshelves, shoes get put with the other shoes and our boots get put with the cleaning supplies just in case we need them for a clean up afterwards.  LOTS of stuff gets thrown out... stinkin' Yasi forcing me to do cleaning.

Some gecko eggs that got evicted from The Bunker

Eventually I get the bunker empty and it's time to start filling it.  There's a set of drawers in there, I am determined to have all our food and food related stuff in those drawers.  I remember to put the can opener in so we can open any cans, I put in all our food and cooking supplies and eating utensils in the drawers and a few other bits and bobs like scissors and pocket knife and stuff.  Next I get to bagging up the things that need to be protected from water.  Our birth certificates, passports, Wolf's citizenship certificate all go in a plastic bag, get taped up, put in another plastic bag and that gets taped up.... Then they go in the plastic tub that is our 'cyclone kit' (containing batteries, torches, candles, matches, small first aid kit, etc).  Wolfs parents call, they suggest we just leave.  It's too late for that, the airport is closing and the cyclone can move faster than we can drive.  Everywhere south is completely booked out with people fleeing.  I go back to packing the kit.  Wolf starts taping windows.  There's been debate on facebook and other places online about whether it actually helps or not... I figure I'd rather 'waste' a few rolls of tape and do it, than not do it and find out the hard way that it would have helped.  Our biggest glass door I cover with some old contact I have.  School books I can cover... large doors I am not skilled at covering.  I may have gotten the contact stuck to my face at more than one point.  I bet Martha Stewart would have put it on perfectly and probably used a pretty etched design contact so that it looked attractive too, oh well, my bubbly contact, applied straight over the top of the kids glass painting with the odd face print stuck in it works for what we need.
Back to the bunker.  Our wedding album goes in a vacuum bag (I figure if they are air tight they should be water tight too) with enough room left for the laptop and external hard drive.  I start collecting 3 days worth of clothes for each of us into another vacuum bag.  I get wipes and disposable nappies stashed away for Monkey, the kids special friends get put in there, and removed by Monkey, and put back and then removed again by Monkey and... well you get the idea.  I put water bottle after water bottle in the bunker.  If the water treatment plant goes bad then who knows how long we'll need our own safe water for.  The wind has picked up and the trees are blowing  a fair bit.  Monkey has started mimicking the "whoooooo" noise it makes as it whistles through the house.  He's very clingy.  The big boys understand what's going on and I've prepared them for what we may need to do and what may happen but Monkey just knows that something is wrong.  He wants cuddles and to just sit in my lap all day but that can't happen, I have things to do.  I fill the bathtub with water just in case it's needed.  Poor Monkey wants to climb in and have a bath, he's very confused.
The Bunker... almost finished

Eventually the bunker is all set up.. food for 3 days, water for quite a while, clothes for 3 days, bedding and extra blankets and pillows (recommended for protection if your roof is lifted off).  We're good to go.  I make everyone dinner and we get them into their PJ's... no bath tonight, it's full of our emergency supply of water.  Monkey goes to bed in his own cot and the big boys are given the choice of where they want to sleep.  They can go to bed in their own room and if we need to move them we will, or they can just go to sleep in the bunker and pretend they are having an adventure.  They pick the bunker.  In we head to read them a story and try to get them settled to sleep... they have other plans and it soon becomes apparent why they picked the bunker.  "Can we have some tiny teddies, or a muesli bar, or some chippies..." they saw me put the container we keep those sort of packaged snacks in away in the bunker and they thought that as soon as they were in there they could start snacking.

Story time in The Bunker

So, two disappointed little boys were put to bed... but they didn't sleep... and this is where I will leave this post for now.  I don't want to bore you to tears before you even get to the good stuff (yeah, probably too late, I can hear your sobbing all the way through this web of the wide world)



  1. you've got me all nervous again ;)

  2. This is so fun to read, because of course I know you're all right! I can't wait to read the next installment. :)

    At the same time you were preparing for Yasi, I was preparing for a blizzard. Not quite the same amount of preparation, but I did go to the grocery store on the Monday before, and then the blizzard hit us Tues. afternoon. Here's my post about it in case you missed it, seeing as how you were in the middle of a cyclone!
    Blizzard 2/2/2011

  3. It sounds an amazing amount of work getting ready for a cyclone. And very necessary.
    I like Monkey a la spaghetti.

  4. Can't wait for the next episode. How do I get rid of the "tinypic - this image or video has been moved or deleted" square thingy that wants to get in the way and make it difficult to read the blogg?

  5. There isn't that much to do for most cyclones. Usually it's just make sure there's torches, batteries, candles, matches etc and you sleep in your own bed and it's all fine. But most cyclones aren't 5 zillion kilometres wide and headed straight for us with enough power to wipe us off the map :-)

    That tinypic image should be gone. It's supposed to be a thin bar along the side but I get the right image then they change it and it's that big image and I fix it and then they change it... it's gone now. I'll find another way to do it.

  6. I am delighted that you are capturing all this. Truly, you guys were in my thoughts all the time. We live in such a stable climate that we truly have no idea.

  7. Oh Wow - it must have been quite scary not knowing what was going to happen. I have never been in a cyclone (thankfully), but have heard it's very scary.
    Looking forward to the next post of your adventure
    Have a wonderful day

  8. You have a beautiful, beautiful family!
    Awesome blog. So glad I found you via AMB.
    Following you now with GFC.
    You can find me over at:

  9. I enjoyed reading your adventure. Milo was jealous about the gecko eggs. He so wants to move there.

    I am glad stayed safe.



  10. People misunderstand what the tape is for which I think is why there's debate over whether it's useful.

    Some people mistakenly think it's supposed to stop your windows smashing. Obviously it won't. I have a friend who lives in Tasmania now and she said the Tasmanian journalists were rubbishing taping up your windows because it won't stop them smashing. But of course that's not the point of taping! It's to stop the glass going everywhere if it does get smashed. I've never tested the theory :P but it sounds reasonable to me. Same theory as laminated glass I think.

    Just out of curiosity: why the food etc in the bunker? I understand the mattresses, blankets, even the clothes & special documents etc, but not the food?

  11. @Suz- Milo can have the geckos! I am sick of their poop everywhere.

    @Leah- The idea of having the food in there is to have EVERYTHING you need to survive for 3 days in one place. If the roof goes you know where everything is. Food, water and clothing for 3 days in one place. I wouldn't want to be sifting around in a trashed house for all the stuff I needed to cook. Not everyone has a space like that available to them but if you've got it then it makes sense to use it.


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