‘Mother’ nature can sometimes be just that. A real one. When the weather becomes wild and unpredictable, the environment can take a turn for the worst quite quickly.
Are you prepared? Have you made an escape plan for bushfire or would you stay and fight? What would you do in the event of a tsunami? Or a flood? Have you considered the best room in your house to bunker down during a tornado, as an example?
Chopping carrots has never quite been the same for me after the tornado of 2003. You see, that’s what I was busy doing when it happened. People say a tornado sounds like a freight train. It’s true. Although I’d say multiple freight trains. I’ve never heard a screaming, angry, hellish growl like it. What an incredible natural sound.
When you watch a tornado coming straight at you, it puts a lot into perspective. I’ll admit, it’s the most scared I’ve ever been in my entire life. I recall thinking, ‘So after all of this, this is it? This is how I go out?’ I saw large lengths of timber, sheets of roofing iron and all kinds of debris and belongings viciously swirling in the black vortex. Reportedly, between 130km and 150km per hour winds.
I don’t know why, but I ran to the Kitchen and snatched a candle to light and scooped up ‘my little dog too’. I think it was a mixture of instinct and possible preemptive forethought that kicked in, as I moved straight to the centre of the house, where there were no windows. I saw a documentary once about what you should do. Do not ever open your doors and windows, close them, go the the smallest room of your house and if you get time pull a bed mattress over yourself for protection. I felt paralysed, on the floor, clutching on to ChiChi. The roar was deafening. I couldn’t light the candle for hyperventilating. I kept blowing out the flame. I felt the pressure change and the fierce suction on my house. Multiple items smashing and slamming into the roof. It felt like a lifetime but I guess it came and went pretty quickly. Official reports suggest it touched down for around 10 minutes.
In hindsight, it’s amusing what flashes through your mind in a moment of time like this. The vision of the house taking flight, the chicken coop, Aunt Em knitting in her rocking chair, a cow, Uncle Henry and friend in his row boat and Miss Gulch riding her bicycle aka Wicked Witch of the West on broom stick all spiralling by.
Yes! In my mind, I was off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz!
Once the roar died down a bit, I ran to the front porch to check if I’d landed in Munchkin Land and watched the twister continue to smash its way through my neighbourhood. An awful, tremendous sight. One to this day I cannot believe I saw come and go. People’s homes being smashed and pieces flying up into the air. Astonishingly, no people were badly injured or worse. Power lines were down, power out, mangled metal sheets wrapped around trees and debris all over. A community in shock. Carnage everywhere.
Final toll left a dozen or so homes destroyed and 50 odd needing major repairs. A metal pole speared through the roof of my house, but I consider myself lucky. Neighbouring houses were later demolished as they sustained far too much damage. I maintain that the large, old peppercorn trees in the rear of my yard took the brunt and saved my house. They were uprooted.
The aerial view of the aftermath was incredible. The 7km trail of destruction looked like a hot knife through butter. It just carved its path out. Unapologetically.
For weeks after the F2 Fujita category tornado, I found items in my yard that belonged to other people. The most memorable were large sections of a child’s plastic cubby house.
In this instance, I believe a quality built house was integral to my safety. Only 2 years prior, I lost my timber house on that same block to house fire. But that’s a story for another day. One without, this particular story could’ve had a very different ending.
Courage, heart, mind. Click your ruby slipper heels together three times.
Moral of the story: Be as prepared as possible and make a home emergency plan in the event disaster strikes. Think more clearly, make better decisions and have a greater sense of control. Grab your phone and save State Emergency Service SES number right now. You just never know when you might need their help.
For assistance in floods and storms – All Australian States & Territories
State Emergency Service SES Ph: 132500
For assistance for life threatening emergencies – Police/Fire/Ambulance Ph: 000
Visit SES Victoria website here http://www.ses.vic.gov.au/ for information about emergency kits and what to keep in them, current warnings, how to create an emergency plan and much more.