10 things a cyclone taught me

I’m back.  After the cyclone I found the motivation was waning and I was contemplating not coming back ever.  Then my domain came up for renewal and I found myself buying another two years as if on autopilot.  So it seems that my subconscious has decided that you are stuck with me for another two years at least.

Now back to the post, and what a better way to get stuck back into it than with a confession for I must confess with Kirsty.  You see, having no power for 6 days really brings out the best in you, or not so I decided that it was time to do some introspection and realise that as shitty as the time was, I did learn some things along the way.cyclone marciaWhen Tropical Cyclone Marcia made landfall at Shoal Water Bay it was a Category 5.  It was still classified as a Category 3 Cyclone when it hit Rockhampton.  To put that into perspective for you, Rockhampton is around 70km from Shoal Water Bay and 50km from any coastline.  A lot of people (myself included) underestimated the damage and long term effects a cyclone would have on our town.

  1. Charge all of the things, even the things you are not sure you will use.  I had all of the I things charged and my phone as well.  In fact I had my phone plugged into the power until the power went out.  What I didn’t have charged was the 2 battery packs that I completely forgot about.  I was gifted one last year and I know that it fully charges my phone twice.  I only remembered it after the power had gone out.
  2. Let your friends and family know in advance that you’ll be updating via social media and that the internet may go down at some point.  I was really grateful for all of the well wishes from loved ones in the lead up and directly after the cyclone hit.  However it was a massive drain on the limited battery power we had, and really there wasn’t much we could say after we had let everyone know that we were safe.
  3. Get a phone that doesn’t rely on power to work.  The mobile networks did go down for a while so that meant that people were unable to contact us.  My house phone is a cordless one that uses power, so it was useless once the power went out.
  4. Buy ice and gas the day before.  Tropical Cyclone Marcia intensified extremely quickly.  In the space of 24 hours it went from a possible category 1 to a category 5.  For those who don’t know what that means, basically the force of the winds went from 60km/hr to a possible 300km/hr.  A lot of people (myself included) underestimated just how much destruction a cyclone of that magnitude could inflict and how long those effects would last.  I had to throw out around $300 worth of food.  We cooked what we could on the BBQ and gave a lot to the dogs.  We managed to get ice on the Monday (the cyclone hit on the Friday morning) and you have no idea how nice that first gulp of cold water was.
  5. Candles are not enough for a light source.  They are also really stress inducing to have around a hyper active five year old and an inside dog.  Thankfully we had a kids camping lantern which worked really well.  In fact that batteries are still working in it now.  We gave up on the candles after the second night.
  6. If possible, continue to keep up to date with the council social media accounts.  Facebook was a wealth of information when it came to keeping up to date with the power situation and where we could go to get ice, petrol and groceries.  It was through Facebook that I also discovered that the local Library was open for people to charge their devices at.  They were an absolute life saver with these service as it meant that I could have a charged phone, and Mr 5 was able to hang out in the air conditioner while playing with other kids.  The Library also has a cafe attached so we were able to get cold drinks and something to eat.
  7. The ABC Radio isn’t the only source of information.  I was actually really disappointed with the amount of updates and information available from ABC Radio.  Especially as we have a studio here.  The local commercial stations were so much better and provided updates every 10 to 15 minutes.  They were also quite instrumental in getting extra assistance to the area and letting people know where they could go for this assistance.
  8. I rely so much on electricity.  I found myself wondering what the hell I was going to do with all of the time we had on our hands.  Of course a lot of it was spent clearing the yard and trying to keep cool.  Of course Mother Nature thought she was hilarious in providing us with temperatures close to hell during the 6 days we had no power.
  9. Fill any prescriptions before the cyclone, especially if they are sleep aids.  On Sunday we had to make the trip out to a chemist because I realised that we were out of Melatonin.  Thankfully social media updates meant that we knew which chemists were open and that we had a script to fill.  The Dr surgery that our GP is at was badly damaged in the cyclone and has only just been up and running as normal last week.
  10. This too shall pass.  As cliche as it is, it’s true.  In the moment, it felt like the primitive living was going to last forever.  I gave up on day 5 and made the trek to my parents house where they had power and air conditioning.  It was seriously the best idea that I have ever had.  It was good for my sanity and it meant a visit to see Nanny and Poppy for Mr 5.

Cyclone Marcia was definitely an experience, one that I don’t wish to experience again.  Thankfully I live in an area that doesn’t see too many cyclones of that magnitude, but that doesn’t mean I’m not anxious about the low currently building in the Coral Sea.

Have you ever been in a cyclone?

Could you survive for 6 days without electricity?

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12 thoughts on “10 things a cyclone taught me

  1. Kirsty @ My Home Truths

    Living in NSW we are not in the path of cyclones but I was keeping up with your updates and was surprised that power took so long to come back online – it really did some damage, didn’t it? I hope you don’t have to make these preparations again anytime soon but at least you will be more prepared both physically and mentally should another cyclone come your way x

  2. Ness

    Great tips Tegan. I’m glad you survived it all in one piece – just! We stayed in Cairns once many years ago when there was a Cyclone and we couldn’t leave the hotel for a couple of days. Luckily it was a Category 2, so I don’t remember it being to extreme. It is really shocking how much we depend on electricity. Ours was down for a day last week and it was torture!

  3. Melanie Greenhalgh

    Well done on surviving and sharing your learning from this event. You did so well to last so long and I was glad that you went to your parents for an opportunity for some sanity. We are not in a cyclone affected areas but have friends that are and will share with them. No – I couldn’t survive 6 days without electricity. I am addicted! Mel xx

  4. Zita

    I am currently ‘surviving’ in Cambodia with no air and no hot water…. not sure I would cope with no electricity whatsoever. The power went out a few times last night and I woke up because the fan had gone off and I was so hot!!!! I think I would have fled after a day so I think you are awesome to have made 5!

    (and I am glad you decided to keep blogging – it would be a sad thing for us if you stopped!)

  5. Raych aka Mystery Case

    We managed five days with no electricity (or money due to ATMs being down). It’s not something I would like to repeat. It was a flash storm rather than a cyclone which caught everyone unawares. Our gas bbq and tinned food was a godsend.

  6. Jess

    I have never been in a cyclone, or any natural disaster really. 6 days without electricity would seriously test my patience and creativity! Great tips should I ever be so unlucky to go through what you did.


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