Sorry for the lack of blogging lately – we have been busy working would you believe. It’s slightly surreal wiring a new house, seeing builders working on it while next door the bricklayers are bricking another new house and all the time we are waiting for the waters to arrive and are glued to the radio to hear the latest updates. Thank You Maureen B. for your phone call. It made Elise’s day to talk to you :- ). No we aren’t under water and yes we are fine although Ashley did suggest she should have told you she couldn’t talk for long as she had to get the scuba gear ready ……….horrible man.
This is going to be a fairly photo intensive post as how on earth do I choose, out of the 75 photos that Ashley took from a plane last Saturday, which ones to show you. Don’t worry – I’m not going to post all of them – just the ones that I think will give you a fair idea of what we are facing and what Kerang has already gone through. He and two of his mates went on a “joy flight” which the local airport was offering to show people what the district and flood waters were like. All three “boys” agreed it was the best thing they could have done as it gave them a clearer understanding of what was happening. Maps and updates from those in charge are all excellent but sometimes that birds eye view is what is needed.
So where does Swan Hill stand at the moment? Well preperations are very well advanced and to date those in the know estimate there are close to 200,000 sandbags that have been laid along the levee banks at Swan Hill, Pental Island, Tyntynder Flats and surrounding areas. There are also many thousands of sandbags that are filled and ready to go in various locations in case they are needed. Because the water has been arriving so slowly excavators have been working around the clock to build up or repair any levee banks which have needed work on them.
Swan Hill is still going to be safe according to the experts. Of course there are no guarantees in life – we all know that – but they are confident that a lot of water will have spread out over flat plains which will reduce the impact and amount of water on Swan Hill. There is concern if the Loddon River, Avoca River and Murray River all peak at the same time but again the experts are fairly confiident that that won’t happen and we will be fine.
Please understand this – we live in a very flat area of our country. And I do mean flat!!! Yes there are a few hills but they are sand hills generally and not that high. These are the flood plains of the Murray River and while the forefathers of Swan Hill built the original township on a sand hill it has grown (funny about that ) since then but there have been measures in the way of levee banks built over the years to protect the growing township.
Further towards Kerang
We will be fine however. While yes there is panic around the town – rumors as always are flying thick and fast – many others are just sitting back and waiting and that’s what it is at the moment. A waiting game. Waiting for the water to arrive and waiting to see what will happen.
Kerang Township -surrounded by water
Don’t get me wrong. While the waiting is hard on everyone it has also given us valuable time to prepare for what ever may happen.
The boys were surprised to see how much land was not underwater around Kerang. From the media reports we thought the water was lapping at their doorsteps.
Now please also don’t be mislead by the photos and what happened in Queensland. They didn’t have the time we have been given to prepare. Nor did they have flood plains to dissapate the force of the water. Many areas in Queensland that were flooded were in hilly country with lots of valleys to channel the water through at amazing rates and with enormous power.
Kerang Power Sub Station. Saved by a great many dedicated locals and emergency services
You will not see here cars floating down streets or being pushed under bridges. Yes there is a lot of water. But it’s also spread out over a huge area and in many places isn’t that deep. Ashley said he could see fence lines and the tops of trees.
Water Flowing over the Highway
Please also keep in mind that there are not a great many photos out there in the media showing what is happening. I guess a slow moving inland sea is no where near as exciting as a torrential 8 foot high rush of water that is sweeping away all in it’s path. We haven’t even seen in the media or even noticed any planes or helicopters taking photos of what is happening which is giving a very biased opinion of what is going on. Remember also that the media use very discriptive language while reporting on a situation – many of the words used are simply used to make it more “exciting” and “interesting” for those watching or reading the reports. The reality of life here is vastly different. We must be becoming a bit boring too as we have noticed that Swan Hill and districts situation is slipping further and further down on the lists of events being reported.
So what has the town done to protect themselves. Well apart from the levee banks some people have surrounded their houses with black plastic and sand bags while still others have done nothing. It’s a judgement call between individuals as to what measures they want to take. It has been a constant message from the authoritites to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
The floodway at Pental Island
I have picked up my sewing room and the bus is partially packed with essentials. We haven’t sandbagged as honestly I don’t think that water will invade the township and we are also reasonably high. If water does come into our home well so be it. Essential documents are photocopied though and mememtoes that I don’t want to loose are packed such as my grandfathers work watch which I always remember him wearing. Both Ashley and I are confident that in a worse case senario we will still have time to put anything else we want to save up high – anything that is down low we didn’t need. We still have to live our lives and keep things relatively normal for the kids – especially the younger two – so racing around beating the doom and gloom drum isn’t going to do any of us any good.
Pental Island – a friends house is on one of those bends but they are fine.
We went out to visit those freinds the other night to see if they needed any help. They are fine but did tell us that while the man of the house and his apprentice were filling sandbags two ladies (a mother and 20something daughter ) stopped and said they would help. The men said it wasn’t necessary and the two women replied that they had bought their own shovels and would help no matter what. Now that is what community is all about!
It’s hard to believe that in the middle of summer we are facing so much water especially after all these long years of drought but I guess Mother Nature thought we needed a wake up call. While the hot weather is making it hard on those preparing sandbags it is also helping in that some of the water is evaporating.
As always please keep our town and communities in your thoughts and prayers.