Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Disaster Preparation

Considering that I live in a pretty disastrous country and tend to freak out whenever I'm not in control, the fact that I don't have any kind of disaster kit seems pretty out of character.  I guess I was always in denial about the dangers.

The thing is, Southeast Queensland is a fairly high-risk area: storms, floods, bushfires, and tsunamis are all a very real risk of living here.  I'm far enough inland that a tsunami shouldn't be a problem for my home, but everything else is certainly a possibility.

Some of you are probably aware that there is severe flooding in several parts of Australia at the moment, particularly in Southeast Queensland.  The ABC site has an emergency page up now.  The Gold Coast is still considered fairly safe, but, well, Toowoomba didn't get any warning at all.  If the Hinze Dam overflows or breaks or something, we're close enough to the Nerang River that we would almost definitely be flooded.  As it is, we have a stormwater drain that runs through the park directly behind our house.  We're up on a rise, but we've seen it fairly far up the rise before, and it's certainly possible (however unlikely) that it could reach our house.

Here is a photo of the park this morning:

This is looking directly over our back fence (just visible across the bottom of the picture). The slope down to the stormwater is actually quite a bit steeper than it appears in this pic.  I would say we're a good 2 metres above the water level in this picture.

More photos and discussion after the jump!

 Park looking over our fence east towards the train tracks (behind the trees and higher than us). You can see the debris around the little tree, which is next to the walking path, just out of the flood zone on the far side.

Park looking over our fence west towards the industrial area and the carpark

West again, showing the distance from the fence to the water

East again, showing distance from fence to water

We have seen the park much more flooded than this.  We've had it up to the larger trees halfway up the slope before.  And when I got home tonight, the stormwater was back below its banks - but the park is so saturated that the smallest amount of rain will make it overflow again.

This morning, I wasn't feeling too worried.  I felt pretty confident that we were safe.  But as we were leaving we noticed the water in the stormwater drain that runs under our driveway was very high - we could see it through the grating.  And when I got to work, the news coming out of other parts of Queensland wasn't good.  As the day wore on, I got more and more stressed and felt more and more ill, thinking about our pets, and the boxes of things we'd inherited from Dave's Gran that were still sitting on the lounge floor, and our books, and the fact that we had no preparation AT ALL.  By the time I was ready to leave work, I was in full-on freak out mode.

I headed to the supermarket and picked up supplies for a disaster kit, then came home and packed everything up.  I still need to pick up a couple more things, but I feel much more prepared now that I have all of this:

In the bottom of the MacPac I've stowed a sleeping bag and our travel pillows.  I wrestled them in there and then realised I hadn't taken my pic yet and couldn't be bothered pulling them out again!  This is our food and first aid supplies.  I haven't organised clothes or pet supplies at this point.

Everything packed up and ready to go, sitting by the garage door.  The fur babies have all been very interested in what we're doing.  Bubbles is checking that I've packed food for her (I have, in the red shopping bag).  Ignore the horrendously dirty carpet, we're out of vacuum bags...

As you can see, we're now prepared to evacuate, by car if possible, walking if we have to, although carrying the two cats in their carrier will be a pain in the arse.  But if we have to, we have to!

We moved the boxes from Dave's Gran, and all the books off our bottom bookshelves, onto the table.

Bubbles again, checking out our disaster preparations... 

And hitching a ride on Dave's back when he tried to get her down!

I feel much better now that I've organised all that (over-organised, some might say).  It's unlikely we'll need to use any of it, but better safe than sorry!

If you are interested in helping the people of Queensland, there are several ways to do so.  You can donate to the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal here.  The RSPCA is also accepting donations here.  Please avoid donating by phone if you can - most phone operators for most services in Queensland have been diverted to taking emergency calls.  The ABC disaster site also has information about helping in other ways, such as volunteering.

If you're in an affected area, please take care.  Don't drive or walk through flooded areas.  Look after yourselves, your loved ones, and your neighbours.  Be more aware of what is going on around you and remember that people you know might have loved ones affected.  This is a very stressful time, but if we all work together, we can pull through.


  1. I think it's great to be prepared. Better safe than sorry!
    When bushfires threatened my parents' area the last couple of days my family had the same approach. The fire was a few km away but it could have easily reached them if it wasn't for the firecrews and their amazing efforts.
    I hope you don't have to use your evacuation plan.

  2. I really think it's important to consider and am really annoyed with myself that I wasn't already prepared. Over the next few months I'm going to refine our emergency kit, replacing tinned food with freeze-dried and that kind of thing, until it's smaller and lighter and easier to handle...But I'm confident that right now, if we had to evacuate for whatever reason, we have the necessities.

    I'm glad your parents are safe. Arsonists are some of the lowest of the low.