Saturday, 21 February 2015

Cyclone Marcia

On Tuesday, 17 March a severe weather warning of issued for Capricornia as a tropical low pressure system laid over the Coral Sea 1050 km north northeast of Bundaberg. The next day, residents were asked to prepare themselves for the combined impact of king tides and a potential cyclone which was expected to cross the coast on Friday. The 8 pm Wednesday update announced that Cyclone Marcia had officially formed and was expected to reach category 2.

Panic buying started late on the 18th and continued on the 19th of March. Most of us who live a simple life stockpile as it's a great way to reduce costs and resources. But why people go out and buy 10 loaves of bread and 20 L of milk when you expect a cyclone and the associated power outages is beyond my comprehension. You need to have access to fresh water and some tin food. Power can be out for days and it's vital you're prepared. If you're prepared, there's no need for panic buying.
During Thursday, people continued to prepare themselves. I guess most people were worried about the flooding. In the past heavy rain has cut off the highway at several locations and therefore trucks were unable to deliver supplies. Sandbags were handed out and Marcia continued to intensified rapidly.

The 11 pm update announced that severe tropical cyclone Marcia has slightly changed course and is moving south southwest towards Central Queensland at 7km/hr as a category 4 system, still with the potential of making landfall as a category 5.

Category 5! What does this mean? The Bureau of Metereology explains Tropical cyclone intensity and impacts here. See an extract below:

Tropical Cyclone Category System

CATEGORY 1 (tropical cyclone)
Negligible house damage. Damage to some crops, trees and caravans. Craft may drag moorings.
A Category 1 cyclone's strongest winds are GALES with typical gusts over open flat land of 90 - 125 km/h.
These winds correspond to Beaufort 8 and 9 (Gales and strong gales).
CATEGORY 2 (tropical cyclone)
Minor house damage. Significant damage to signs, trees and caravans. Heavy damage to some crops. Risk of power failure. Small craft may break moorings.
A Category 2 cyclone's strongest winds are DESTRUCTIVE winds with typical gusts over open flat land of 125 - 164 km/h. These winds correspond to Beaufort 10 and 11 (Storm and violent storm).
CATEGORY 3 (severe tropical cyclone)
Some roof and structural damage. Some caravans destroyed. Power failures likely.
A Category 3 cyclone's strongest winds are VERY DESTRUCTIVE winds with typical gusts over open flat land of 165 - 224 km/h.
These winds correspond to the highest category on the Beaufort scale, Beaufort 12 (Hurricane).
CATEGORY 4 (severe tropical cyclone)
Significant roofing loss and structural damage. Many caravans destroyed and blown away. Dangerous airborne debris. Widespread power failures.
A Category 4 cyclone's strongest winds are VERY DESTRUCTIVE winds with typical gusts over open flat land of 225 - 279 km/h.
These winds correspond to the highest category on the Beaufort scale, Beaufort 12 (Hurricane).
CATEGORY 5 (severe tropical cyclone)
Extremely dangerous with widespread destruction.
A Category 5 cyclone's strongest winds are VERY DESTRUCTIVE winds with typical gusts over open flat land of more than 280 km/h.
These winds correspond to the highest category on the Beaufort scale, Beaufort 12 (Hurricane).
Alerts were issued during the night and people in low lying areas were being evacuated. Emergency sirens sounded in the coastal town of Yeppoon. Evacuation centres were opened. Business advised they will remain closed on the Friday, 20 March - the day Marcia is supposed to hit. Heavy rain overnight already flooded many areas.

On 20 March 2015 at 4 am, severe tropical cyclone Marcia had intensified to a category 5 system - the highest category cyclone there is. Sustained winds near the centre were 205 km/h with wind gusts up to 285 km/h.

Emergency Services and residents worked frantically to prepare. Further evacuations were undertaken, airports were closed and business sandbagged.  At 8.20 am severe tropical cyclone Marcia, category 5, crossed the coast near Shoalwater Bay north of Yeppoon.
The following hours were harvoc. I'm currently at work on Barrow Island in WA and Steve was planning to drive home on Thursday after he spend a few days with his mates. Hera was in the kennel. Unfortunately he was a bit too optimistic and decided to break up his trip and stay overnight at Bargara. Why you would want to stay in beach side accommodation when a cat 5 cyclone is about to hit is beyond my comprehension. But at that time at that location there was some rain, some wind and that was it. At 4 am Bargara lost power and Steve ventured home early in the morning, picked up Hera and arrived home just as the cyclone made landfall. So he had a few hours to prepare our home.
We knew we were going to loose power but we bought a generator a while back which will keep the pumps, freezer and a small fridge going. We're not connected to town water or sewerage, so it's important we can operate the pumps. I checked our insurance cover and excess and all we could do was hoping.

People were told to stay indoors and within minutes power was off. Colourbond roofs and even walls were peeled off by the wind like plastic. 285 km/h wind has a lot of force! One of the most dangerous times in a cyclone is when the eye hits you. Suddenly after all the wind and rain, it's sunny and calm. It depends on the size of the cyclone how long this will last for and some people think it, it's over and then are surprised that it all starts again. Luckily for most people on the east coast of Australia, a cyclone is a re-occurring event and most people are aware of it.
Marcia went over Yeppoon and Rock Hampton, destroying homes and business. She then slowly travelled to Rockhampton destroying power supply to the hospital and the wastewater treatment plants leaving residents without water and sewage.
At noon, it started to hit Bouldercombe where we live (red star).
By 3 pm, Marcia was still moving across. The power line was ripped out of the house, the trees were ripped out of the ground and everything was soaked while Hera was save in the shed and Steve ready to save what he could. For me being 5000 km away from home, those were the longest hours ever. I didn't care about the house, just Steve and the animals.

As the cyclone moved further south, it slowly lost its intensity. We were hit by a category 3 with recorded windgusts up to 260 km/h. We had over 300 mm of rain in less than 24 hours. But we were lucky.

The cyclone caused more damage the further it travelled and soon Biloela was flooded. People in Jambin were evacuated as the automatic gates of the Callide Dam opened. It took over 24 hours for this cyclone to go from a category 5 system back to a tropical low and it affected a stretch of 700 km of coastline and adjacent inland areas with heavy wind and rainfall. 
 Yeppoon as the cyclone wall approached.
Many buildings are destroyed or have suffered severe structural damage.
The wind played with these boats as they were toys.
This is Great Keppel Island Beach when we were there in July 2014. This is the view from the cabin we had booked.
This is the cabin which was booked for mid March and both Steve and I were really looking forward to it.
Unfortunately all 3 beach cabins were lost during the cyclone. This must be very heartbreaking for the owners.

The Pub on Great Keppel Island also has suffered extensive damage.

Today, many roads are closed, flooding is continuing but the sun is shining and Queenslanders do what makes them so special - get up, shake the bad things off and start cleaning and repairing.

At home, Steve is cleaning up and will replant some new trees as the ground is wet. We will have no power for at least 10 days but the generator will enable him to live relatively comfortable. We have gas for cooking and hot water and plenty of food in the freezer. By the time I go home on the 6th of March everything at home will be back to normal - unlike a lot of other poor people who have lost everything. I'm very grateful that nothing happened to Steve or the animals.

* Pictures from various sources of Facebook.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Declutter your electronic devices

The other day, I wanted to call a friend of mine. When I searched for her contact details on my phone, I noticed I had 3 entries of her with different phone numbers and email addresses. Hm, which one is the last one? I also noticed I had about 180 people in my contact list but my phone bill is less than $10 a month. So instead of doing what I normally do - just getting annoyed and say I will have to fix this eventually - I sat down and fixed it right then and there. I deleted all contacts all no longer need - colleagues from about 10 years ago who now work somewhere else, people I no longer speak to, Regulators I no longer deal with, old medical centres and the list goes on and on. I probably haven't cleaned up my contacts list for 8 years! I removed all the people I haven't spoken to in over a year and then combined all of the double or triple entries and ended up with less than 50 contacts - that includes family, friends, doctors, tradies and current colleagues. I was very happy with that result!
After I cleaned up my contacts, I decided I should clean up my applications. I originally purchased an iPhone and only about a year ago purchased an iPad as it is more convenient for me when I travel. But I still had applications on my phone to play movies. So I cleaned up my applications and sorted them in a logical order.

Digital clutter is a fairly new phenomenon I guess but it can be quite overwhelming. The average household probably has at least a phone - mostly smart phones these days, then there's a computer/laptop/iPad/tablet. This results in having contact lists (phone/email/addresses) and file storage. Files most people store are documents,  movies, music and pictures. Then let's not forget social media such as Facebook, online forums, bookmarks and emails. Pretty overwhelming to keep it all in order, right?

So I cleaned up my contacts and apps and now I actually find stuff. As I travel a lot I have an external harddrive and EVERYTHING is saved on there. I would not leave the plane in an emergency without it. I've got 4 folders on there:
1. Documents
2. Movies
3. Music
4. Pictures

In my documents folder I store all my files electronically: Bank Statements, craft files I downloaded, payslips, Superannuation statements, electronic journal ect. It's important to save the files with a proper name such as '2015 01 Credit Card Statement', so later on, when you search for something at tax time, there it is.

The movie folder contains all of our electronic movies. I've got alphabetical folders and all movies are saved under their name. However, we still have a huge DVD collection. I would love to digitise all of our DVDs but have no idea how to do this, does anyone have some advice?

I have digitised all of our CDs with iTunes and only kept a shoebox full which were signed are meant something special to me. I've downloaded the iTunes Folder on my external hard drive and can listen to them anywhere.

Photos I have ordered by year and then by month, e.g. 2015 - (01) January. If we go on a trip or it's a special event, I create another sub-folder, other than that, all pics from the camera, the iPhone, iPad and anything send to me, is saved there.

I will talk another time about online decluttering. In the meantime, let's try and get organised together. Share your electronic decluttering advise in the comments section and let's see how everyone is going in about a months time. Who wants to join?

Saturday, 7 February 2015

What has been happening?

Oh boy, it's already been a month since my last post... I hope everybody had a good start to 2015 and that you're successfully keeping up with the money challenge. Thank you all for the congratulations on our engagement - I'm very excited!
When I returned from work, Steve and I met up in Brisbane and stayed at a friend's place. We wanted to have a look for a location for our wedding as we decided to make it a central location for everyone and after a bit of a look around, we decided to get married at the Montville Country Cabins with its beautiful gardens and lake.
The big day is going to be 7 November 2015 - and I still cannot believe we're engaged! I'm looking forward to the day and know it's going to be relaxt and everybody will enjoy themselves.
Another reason, we were staying at my friend's place, is my Christmas present: a Husqvarna Topaz 30!
It's a sewing/embroidery machine - I finally wanted to learn how to mend and make things. Since I never ever used a machine like this before, I needed my friend to show me how to get started.
Embroidery works great - the machine does all the work really.
Look at this! Isn't it beautiful?! I was very proud despite not actually doing anything.
I also made some placemats, ...
... and coasters.
We also made a magnificent Mother's Day present. I will post it here on the day as my Mum reads this blog.
We all went to a Swiss Restaurant North of Brisbane - it was fantastic and we really enjoyed the food and the Swiss surroundings - outside the temperature was in its high thirties.
After 10 relaxing days, we travelled back home with a stopover at Hervey Bay to replenish our stockpile with products from Aldi. We stayed at the Waterfront Apartments which were absolutely fabulous and very reasonably priced - we will certainly stay here again.
H first thing I enjoyed doing when I was home, was cooking, like this Moussaka with a healthy cauliflower bechamel sauce...
... Or this dark grain bread - tastes fantastic! I always miss my bread when I'm at work.
I took to clean up my Study to find a spot for my sewing machine.
And look at my pin cushion jar - isn't it pretty?! I made it all by myself (not the jar obviously).
I bought some beautiful fabrics to make a sewing machine cover and hopefully some other things.
I decided on a patchwork quilt cover for my machine, so I had to cut the fabric into squares.
Then I sewed them all together...
... attached the sides ...
... and my sewing machine cover is finished. I love it!!! And I'm so proud to have done this!
I also embroided a hanky for my Granddad's birthday.

Hera was happy that we were all at home, she loved all the attention and she loved when we let her come inside while we had the aircon on. The first few days after we came back were HOT, so we decided to use the aircon. We have one in every room but the only one we ever used was the one in the bedroom. If temps don't get below 30 deg over night, it's just too hot to sleep. But we mid January, we had around 38 deg C which isn't THAT hot but we also had 89% humidity which makes the felt temperature to be like 49 deg C! So we shut all doors and windows and turned the aircon in the living room on and spent our time in there - Hera sleeping on the cool tiles which she loved.
Not long afterwards, it rained and also we had interruptions, it rained every day for the rest of my R'n'R. I enjoyed many, many baths because our tanks were overflowing. The yard is beautiful green, the temperature went down and everything just looks so nice!
We had this rain on the 26 January - Australia Day. Steve and I enjoyed the day at home and I made Mint Juleps. After the rain we jumped in the Pool and it was so nice and refreshing, it was a fantastic day and I really enjoyed it!
This visitor was seeking shelter after the rain. It's just a tree python, so I left it there to rest.
The rainy weather was perfect to trial my sewing machine. I wanted to trial a design I purchased and want to use for our wedding.

Isn't this beautiful? I will use slightly different colours for the final design but I just wanted to see how it turns out. It's a Jacaranda sprig.
And for everybody who doesn't know how this works, I made a little video. Totally amazing!!!
The wet weather brought snakes, spiders, flies, hornets and wasps. I got bitten by a wasp and my hand swell up so much, it was very painful for nearly a week. I also found a large hornet's nest in our Entertainment area which we luckily removed before they hatched.
Our wedding invitations are done and will be send out soon. I think, they're very pretty for a November wedding in South East QLD - surrounded by Jacaranda trees.
Between making German bread and Australian scones, I also made some German breadrolls - Kaiserbroetchen. Hmmm!!!
And I Made some plate protectors for our picnic basket when we go over to Keppel Island next month.
Clever, isn't it?
Hera watched the Magpies visiting and eating all the birdfood from around the cages. She only barks at them when they're in her spot, she doesn't like to share at all!
The Magpie Baby and Stormy are making friends.
So in summary I had 4 fantastic weeks with friends, great weather (loved the rain!!!), craft and baking. I feel very relaxt and happy and am ready to work for 4 weeks again.