Tropical cyclone Oswald has been making himself comfortable just down the valley, settling in for a few days’ visit. He probably likes the climate and the coast line with its beautiful beaches and mountain backdrop. I can’t say I blame him, really!
His arrival did cause consternation, though, as he has brought a certain amount of rain and general bad weather with him. I was teaching a Diploma in Visual Arts class at TAFE in Glenreagh Street, Coffs Harbour, yesterday in wild weather. The campus manager came round and asked us if we really wanted to be there! Local schools had started to shut, sending kids home, as the bus companies were ringing them to say they were going to send the buses out at 10:00am and if the children wanted to get home they had to go NOW. My class was having such fun learning book binding skills that they decided to stay – even the one who had travelled over 60km, down the mountain from Dorrigo! So we enjoyed our classroom full of light and laughter as Oswald chucked the rain horizontally at us and beat the windows. We managed to place a bucket under the drip in the roof and stayed put, leaving about half an hour earlier than usual.
I picked darling daughter up from a sodden school, where the remaining few children were being taught together in a single classroom by one teacher! We went to get some treats: pudding, chocolate and some flour for baking things today, and then we carefully drove home. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be along the highway, but the dirt track was fun! As you come off the road there is a downward slope to the bottom of the valley where a creek runs through. It had burst its banks in a big way and for the first time since we’ve lived here the causeway across the creek was completely under water. I could just about make out where to drive, didn’t really know how deep the water was, and crossed my fingers… luckily it only came up to the axles and it wasn’t slippery under the water so we were fine.
We’re not planning to go anywhere much, although theoretically I have an exhibition opening tonight in town! We might wait and see whether anyone manages to get out over the causeway today before trying it ourselves! Last time Coffs Harbour had major flooding, back in 2009, the causeway was washed away completely… hopefully this is more a case of submersion followed by lower water levels in the creek. Even though more rain is forecast, it’s only in the order of 20-40mm per day for the rest of the week, unlike the >100mm we’ve had for the last few days.
So we’re all fine: we’ve got power, water and a roof over our heads, and food to keep us going for days. My thoughts are with the 14,000 families up and down this stretch of the coastline without power this weekend, and the poor families without roofs or flooded out in places like Grafton and Ballina… Oswald came to visit but I think he’d lost some of his puff by the time he reached us. Let’s hope some of our excess rainfall gets down as far as Victoria where they are, as far as I know, still on high bush fire alert around Melbourne. That’s a whole different pile of trouble.