Last Tuesday/Wednesday, it rained in Jerusalem. Not a totally rare event. But what was rare was that it rained for about 24 hours, and some of the rain fell over the dams. So we got a bit of run-off caught, but not a lot. What I didn’t realise until the Friday (which happened to be Bub’s birthday) was that the weather system that rained here went south, to Novocastria. So when I saw this (below) on the news.com.au website, it came as a bit of a surprise.
Initial reports from Novocastria were basic – lots of rain, big storms, couple of roads and bridges washed away, but very little detail.
Sunday night, I texted my mum to ask if Bub and her were ok, and I was told they were. My family don’t live in flood areas (well, they don’t anymore!) and while stories of my old high school being used for an evacuation centre caught my interest, for the most part, it was curiosity value only.
On Tuesday, once back at work, I emailed my cousin Marquis. Because he’s both the only reliable family member I have in Cyberia, and also closely in touch with the rest of the clan. I asked simply whether he’d heard if our family were ok, or affected at all. I was taken aback at his response.
His mother and sister had lost power for 2 days (they thought it’d be out for a week, so two days was apparently good). The lower part of their house was flooded. As was their car. My grandparents had lost a shed, and a fence thanks to a falling tree. They were also told to ration water, as supplies in their area were unreliable. Bub & Mum were uncontactable for a couple of days, but were found to be okay, although Bub’s car had been washed away. Marquis’ friends in Adamstown were without power, so they had to go stay with their parents in Mayfield, but their parents had no water, so they had to go to other friends to have showers. Marquis also had friends in Woy Woy who had no power or water for several days, so had to use gas camping stoves to prepare food and drinks for two children (ages 2yrs and 6 months). Other friends had tried to make their way to elderly relatives in Toronto, but couldn’t due to the number of fallen trees and blocked roads. Main streets in some suburbs would probably lose every business because of the damage sustained.
In Jerusalem, I heard none of this. All we got on the news here were the highlights – cars washed away, fatalities, big boats run aground, rivers peaking and cities along the river saved. None of the small stuff – how hundreds of thousands of individuals were affected in small but significant ways.
Later, I managed to call my sister. It turns out the story of her car being washed away stemmed from a mis-understood text message. She’d been out in the storm, and in one of the badly affected suburbs, and she’d seen other cars washed away, but she was fine. Ironic really when one of the things I’d been telling her in my sms conversation with her on her birthday (Friday, the day the storm hit) was that her tendency to abbreviate in text messages to the point of unintelligibility means her messages are wasted, because noone understands what she says.