The floods and a preparedness lesson.

As mentioned in Friday's post so many are living through a very tough time at the moment.   One of my readers wrote the following account.   With her permission I am sharing it as it is really full of things that we can learn from and use.   I have included my own pictures as the descriptions of cattle standing in water and hearing of stock drowning and without feed really hit me.  I would be so distressed if something was to happen to my cows or sheep.   I can't imagine.   There are many tips here and things we can do...   

Thank you dear  F for taking the time to share this helpful advice.  I read it and re read it and there are things I can put into action.   We hope and pray for your home and community! xxx

Presently, Lismore is a disaster area of epic proportions with lots and lots of issues. Many are not expecting that businesses there will reopen at all. Aldi, for example, has their parking area under the building which is on stilts – basically to get above the 1974 flood level. Aldi flooded to the roof. Most other shops would have been above that. Lismore is the major centre for literally several hours drive for many people – so anyone that has ordered/is waiting for building materials, equipment, food, etc is going to be waiting a looooooong time. I’m expecting fencing materials will be in short supply, and we’ve probably got enough on hand to make the running repairs but if the damage was any worse, we would be quite short…. Same goes in bushfires…. Barbed wire and steel posts don’t really go off, so when you can buy these things and store some, it’s a good thing to do!!

We are outside of a village out of Casino. Our road was cut in both directions as a consequence of floodwater washing out the crossings and entrances to (new) bridges. The local farmers fixed the approach to the bridge yesterday (one had the key’s to the Council quarry which probably helped!!). The Council were advised, but couldn’t get there, and couldn’t prioritise it. They were happy with the farmers fixing it. The road lost power – some were not on grid and were pretty comfortable as a consequence, but the rest were without power and there were concerns that the power couldn’t be fixed until the bridge access was restored. Turned out a tree brought down a power line – found by the farmer when walking the paddocks (not ideal I suspect). 

Many people lost power, and those that had generators were keeping fridges and freezers going…. But some didn’t have fuel on hand. One walked across the bridge (there was a 2 foot drop on one side!!) with the jerry cans and had made the local servo promise to keep them 40 l of fuel. The servo ran low – unsure whether they are completely out or not, but fair chance at this point as they can’t be re-supplied…. 

We have since discovered that travel from the village is not really an option – the main roads have been cut in every direction basically by floods and landslides. As roads have been cut in every direction, there were no re-stocking options (most people do their big shop at Casino or Lismore). The pharmacy, servo  and corner store in the village (not really a supermarket, but our approximation of one) can’t get supplies in at the moment either. We think that the pharmacy might be one of the only ones operating between Tenterfield and the Coast because many of the others have been flooded. Seems like people can get to Tenterfield, but they are running short on fresh food (chocolate and soft drink are apparently readily available tho!)

There are a number of neighbours who didn’t/don’t have more than a few days food for themselves and their animals on hand. At one point, we were gearing up to try to feed and extra adults for the foreseeable future. Thankfully that hasn’t been necessary to the extent we expected. We still can’t get to major centres due to landslides etc so restocking options aren’t good at the moment. I’m not expecting to be going to buy food for at least another week, and when that happens we are likely to have to travel much further (and probably pay more $)….

We have friends who purchased a small herd of cattle last year. They were directly in the flood path. Last photo we received from them (close to the peak) the cattle were standing in a foot of water – that was the highest point on the property. Our friends were in the neighbours house which literally was on the boundary where the cattle were - everything else is lost. They have no feed for their cattle (it was all flooded) and no ability to travel to get some more themselves. We are trying to arrange an emergency drop of feed for the cattle to get them through the next few days. Once the roads are open, the cattle can be moved to temporary adjistment to someone that can manage any health needs whilst the owners clean up the rest of their property. 

Take homes: 

1.      There is always a chance that the river will rise higher than it has before – so don’t plan on “it only got this high last time” and a chance that the bushfire will reach you when it hasn’t before. 

2.      Lots of people just don’t keep enough stores of food, medicine and cleaning supplies for themselves, pets and stock. People need to be keeping on hand much more than they are; 

3.      Plan that you will potentially have to look after others who are less prepared (eg, we very nearly had 5 extras plus animals to feed as they didn’t have food on hand, and we have been helping at least 2 out with fuel and food ever since) – this will run down your stores MUCH more quickly than you might think;

4.      Encourage the neighbours to keep more on hand!! It might help your supplies eek out a little longer and you can swap where necessary; 

5.      You really need a way to resupply stuff with a shorter shelf life – vege garden, eggs, milk, etc. 

6.      Have a way to power your fridge and freezer if the power goes out for a week or two (and the fuel to run gen sets etc if required – rotate your fuel like you rotate everything else);

7.      Storage of food that doesn’t require a fridge and freezer is GOLD as is stuff that can be prepared quickly to feed a crowd on short notice (dump and go soup mixes seems to fit this bill!); 

8.      Make sure you plan for what you might need to do with running repairs in an emergency (tarps, ropes, in our case fencing supplies. Building supplies, extra plumbing fittings etc would also fit in this category). Have a think about what infrastructure is critical (eg, fences for stock, water for stock, water for the house, house repairs (tarps for the roof, ropes and anchors to hold them down).  What items might you have to replace in a natural disaster situation? What fittings do you need? – this is where standardising what you use on your property is ideal. For example – if you can use the same size water pipe all over your property, you can stock standard size fittings for emergencies. Or the same taps throughout the house means you can stock the same washers etc if you need to. Same light fittings = same lamp/bulbs you will need.  Same with things like gates (or doors for that matter!) .

9.      Extra supplements, medical supplies, vet supplies for people and stock are not optional – people are likely to be scrambling to get lick blocks for supplements for cattle (for example, increasing copper intake can help for specific issues that arise after floods - footrot for example). I think of lick blocks as being the vitamin pills for stock. Homeopathic and natural medicines where you know how to use them are much more versatile at times in these situations and can sometimes be used for people and stock (Homeopathic stuff can also go a LOT further if you know how to use it!); 

10.   If you will need it within the next month (or more)  and it is non-perishable – buy it… don’t wait until the next shop if you can afford it because ultimately, in an emergency you may not have that option any more! There was one thing I left on the shelf last shop that I really should have picked up and I’m kicking myself for not doing so.

11.   Common sense is apparently a superpower. Many people relied on what the BOM and weather and government were telling them. Know your area. Know how sodden your paddocks (or yard and parks nearby)already are. Know where (and how big) the catchment for your creeks are. It seemed to me to be exceptionally obvious, having regard to the volume of water falling upstream of us and that the creek was (over) full already and the paddocks sodden that we were going to see our paddocks flooded. We therefore moved the stock to higher ground even though it technically wasn’t expected to be needed. Glad we did – they had 2 metres of water through parts of that paddock, and fences are down. There are reports that people were standing on the levy at Lismore with 2 inches to go before it overtopped, whilst it was raining, watching it rise on the basis that the government warning at the time was should be ok. I suspect they would have been better preparing what they could, gathering supplies and exiting stage left than standing there watching. Seriously, we would do a lot better as a community if we stopped solely listening to the government and trusted our own observations, intelligence and reasoning…. 

12.   You don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to keep your eyes open, and ask they “what if” and “why” questions. “Why is that the case and what causes this situation” and “what if the situation was different? Would that result in a different outcome? What does that mean for us? What if…. There is more rain upstream? What if we can’t get to our next major town? What will be the damage if….”

There are some great points here.  We need to think, really think.  It is certainly true that we need to trust our observations and use our heads!   In a catastrophe it is likely that no one is coming to help.  Not for days or weeks.  You are on your own.   An ambulance or the police are not coming.  The phone isn't working.  The roads are not passable.  The shops are empty even if you could get there.  You need to be prepared.  These times money in the bank won't help.  Good ideas like a generator and fuel are only an option if you already are set up with both.  Whatever you need to do the best time to do it was ages ago.  The second best time is now! 

If money is an issue go here... Free ways to be better prepared. 
If you are worried foods will expire..  Foods that last basically forever. 
My old blog (you arrive there via these links) has a whole index of  preparedness subjects.  

If you have lived through a crisis and have knowledge to share please do.   Experience is the best teacher.   Enjoy your weekend and have a restful Sunday.  I have a plan to make a plan! haha!   
Be observant!  Put your concerns into useful


  1. Annabel,
    This is what we learned from the Canterbury earthquakes. One house inspector told us we were the only ones who had more than enough water stored and that was thanks to DP. We put into place many strategies and resources to live independently for more than two weeks as a result. Never anticipated facing things like a global pandemic, although I knew they had happened in the past. Since the earthquakes we keep stocks up and buy when we see it now and not later as you don't know what tomorrow might bring. We are fortunate to be able to do this but in looking after ourselves we leave needed resources from community agencies for those who cannot.
    My thoughts and best wishes go to all who are suffering as a result of the floods.


  2. To Annabel's dear friend: thank you for sharing your wise words at such a time. You have a very serous and kind spirit, not only because you have shared with us such valuable knowledge and time during such a difficult period, but in the way you are helping others in your community. Thank you for these tips. I have a lot to work on from this post and this gives me so much guidance. Thank you. I will keep you and your family and the community of Lismore (and surrounding communities) in my prayers. Lots of love, Lily

    1. I absolutely agree with Lily! Thank you F, for sharing and reinforcing for the the rest of us, the need to be prepared, to think for ourselves and always help others when we can. Your story is one of heartbreak and also inspiration. Blessings to you and your community,
      Kirsty x

  3. Thank you so much for posting this. Please thank the lady who shared such valuable information. Wake up calls are a blessing in life as it motivates us to work wiser, faster and quicker. Many prayers for the people going through this and for the vulnerable animals. As a huge animal lover such things break my heart.

  4. Thank you for sharing this today. We all need to learn from her experience for sure. This small in comparison but we had our credit card compromised and we use it to pay for everything and pay it off each month. We are waiting on our new card but find we are cut off from so much without one. DO keep cash!

  5. Keeping the flooded areas and people in my prayers.

  6. Great summary F, I'm also near Lismore but on the coast. The other things I'd add is 1. having some cash on hand. No internet network means what shops & service stations are operating are taking cash only. 2. A radio & batteries. I hadn't got around to replacing ours & we really missed that source of information until the elec. came back on

  7. Thank you Annabel for sharing this Bluebirds wise words. I hope this Bluebird is able to recover as quickly as possible from the floods. I have a friend in Lismore and her personal photos have been devastating.
    One thing we found, having lived through cyclones, floods, bushfires and mini tornadoes that saw a large tree land on our house, was that it was wise to keep both vehicles and the tractor full of fuel. We had two gen sets, one for running the fridges and a fan and one for power for cleaning up as in running a pressure washer.
    We also found that keeping all our major personal documents, insurance information and a few items like radio, batteries, baby wipes(great for cleaning you when needed) and a large roll of wettex(fantastic for cleaning and good as a bandage when needed, it was needed), a torch and a plan for getting out. Having everything written down meant that you had a full list and could work through it quickly and efficiently. This was, and is, all kept in a water tight plastic storage box under the bed.
    We have drawers in the back of the 4WD. In one drawer is tools. The second drawer has clothes, cooking implements, bottled water, food and torches. There is enough to keep us going for 72 hours. We always keep a picnic blanket and a sleeping bag, along with a first aid kit in the car. Our car is essentially our bug out bag. This is cleaned out and refreshed regularly.
    When the children were little, I had storage pouches that hung on the back of the front seats. I always kept pens, paper, colouring books in these. I used to keep some toys, lego and puzzles in the essential papers box as well.
    These are some items that I always have ready to go.

  8. Thank you for posting this and it has encouraged me to prepare even more. The info about the bridges being washed out caught my attention as there are 3 small bridges out of our subdivision that cross over virtually dry ditches--but if we had heavy rains, they might not be passable. There is only one other option of passage out of our subdivision and that is through a farmer's field--I suppose that would have to be our route if necessary--but it would be very soft and muddy. Good things to consider, I think I may speak with a city employee and point out these deficiencies. Maybe they have never thought about these bridges being impassable. About 3 years ago in the northern part of our state, we had heavy rains in February, and ice blockage took out a dam, bridges, farmland, buildings and flooded towns. We saw video of cattle being swept away in the ice and water, downstream in the river. It was horrible and devastating to hear the frightened animals bellowing. When the waters receded, sand was left on farmland, which made it unusable.

  9. Thank you, F and Annabel for sharing these helping ideas. It may be life savers! My prayers and love for everybody out there in the terrible flood area. Be safe and trust God. With love, Laura

  10. Thank you F and I do hope that you are safe.

    We are experiencing the after effects of flooding here as well as a current heatwave now into its 8th day with temps here 38 during the day and 26 or 27 at night. It is so hard to fathom that while there is so much rain down south that there is a heatwave happening. We have had thunderstorms with really loud claps of thunder but no rain to go with it

    Floods effect trucks getting through when roads are cut and also the rail system. The perimeter of the local Woolworths near me is absolutely bare and product limits are back in.

    Things missing in the last week

    * fruit and veg
    * all deli products (some locally sourced fish available in small amounts)
    * all dairy milk, cheese, yogurt, butter
    * meat and chicken products
    * all frozen products veggies, frozen meals, ice creams, frozen fruit,
    * eggs
    * cupboard milk
    * toiletries not only toilet paper & tissues

    Being prepared for cyclones does help me prepare for other natural disasters and we have a organic store that has a range of products with not only fruit and veg, milk and meat products but also lots of pantry staples. We also have a bulk source food store that you can take empty containers in for refills of things such as
    * dried fruits
    *tea leaves
    *dishwashing liquid
    just to name a few.

    Cash is another thing to have on hand. We went through cyclone Debbie and were cut off from towns for well over a week and we had no power for 5 days but businesses had big generators but as the lines were down there was no EFT available so lucky small country town people could book products up and pay later, but we had cash.

    We saw pictures of a calf that had somehow managed to get a long way from home in the floods and was so distressed that the only humane thing was to put it down. It was not something that you want to hear.

    To all those who have been effected or have family effected by the flooding, my heart goes out to you all. You are not forgotten by those that care. I know that we have people heading down from here with cleaning items and to help with cleaning and things like clothes as well as donations of gift cards and cash to help out those struggling

    Take care
    Aly xxx

  11. Wow, so much wisdom here. I feel so bad for people over there who were caught in the floods.
    There are always lessons to be learned and I appreciate your sharing the experiences. Because we live in an area that could easily have brush fires, we are always on the alert. I converted our coat closet near the front door to a "bug-out closet" and it has as much crammed in there as would fit there and also in our vehicles, including a food bucket, our bug-out bags, a container of seeds, some cash, a list of important things that have to be kept locked up, etc. From past experience I'm aware that when there is an emergency I don't always think clearly so everything we value or would help us start again needs to be handy and easy to load up if we are forced to evacuate. Praying for your countrymen.

  12. I live in Goonellabah, a suburb of Lismore, so I know exactly what F is talking about. And to be sure she has nailed it!

    Hubby and I are now having conversations about buying a generator, making more vegetable gardens and having more jerry cans for fuel storage...and we live in town, not in a small community like F!

    This isn’t a freak event in my opinion, I think it will keep happening, and I hope I am proven wrong!

    Great advice F. I hope things are a little better in your area by time you read this ❤️

  13. In 1962, when I was 16, the city where I lived caught the tail-end of a typhoon with 100 mph winds. This was called "the storm of the century," and it probably was. My family lost power for 3 weeks. We had a fireplace, but no wood! We had an electric stove. My mother made little fires with whatever she could find in order to cook in the fireplace. We also had no extra food--and I mean NONE. People in cities often shopped every day. Fortunately, the stores opened the day after the storm. There were no refrigerated or frozen items until the power came back on, but cash registers weren't electric then (let alone computerized), so we were able to feed ourselves.

    After an ice storm 30 years later, my parents were again without power for 3 weeks because the wires got ripped off the house. They discovered this after the electricity came back on within a few days. In the US, the wires that connect to your home are YOUR responsibility. If they had known this, they would have been calling electricians the minute the wind stopped. Instead, they got on a long waiting list, and that's why they were without power for so long. Oh, yeah, they didn't have anything to cook on. They didn't have wood, either, but no matter--they decommissioned the fireplace years before. They did have a lot of canned food, however.

    I've always been determined not to make the same mistakes. (I've made different ones, LOL).

    After an emergency, my best advice is to make a list of what you wish you'd had or wish you'd done and start making changes. If you haven't had an emergency--yet--learn from others. Based on their experiences, make a list of things you can do now to prepare yourself. You don't have to do everything all at once, but get started preparing yourself.

    When we built this house (about 4 years ago), we thought about what we could do right out of the box. We have a gas fireplace that will heat (but not blow) if the electricity is out. We could huddle around it. We have a gas range and the burners (but not the oven) will light with a match. (In the past, when I've cooked with electricity, I have set a propane camp stove right on top of the range and cooked away). If you did the math when I told you I was 16 in 1962, you know I am 76 years old...although I haven't grown up yet. When we got rid of our camping equipment, I kept that camp stove and propane camp lanterns, and I have portable LP cylinders to operate them. (I kept the stove in case anyone needed to borrow it in an emergency). I also kept our sleeping bags. Even if you don't camp, get a camp stove and lantern, and buy some fuel. (I would not buy a battery lantern--when the battery dies, you're done). Camping gear goes on sale at the beginning of summer and start of hunting season, unless you happen to find a stove or lantern at a yard sale. These are also items you can request for birthdays or Christmas, or use gift cards.

    A few months ago, thanks to Annabel's preparedness series, we bought a tri-fuel generator for $800 and connected it to our natural gas line. If the power goes out, it will operate the fan on the furnace (we'd have heat!) as well as our fridge and freezer. We've got daylight, the lantern and candles. This week I realized I didn't know where the candles were! I bought 4 new ones for .88 each and determined to buy a few more every time I went to the store. Then I found the old ones, LOL. Oh, well, we won't be needing candles again anytime soon.... But that's my point. You may decide you want something but can't afford it right now. But that doesn't mean you can't do anything--candles are cheap! Do what you can, when you can. Hopefully, you won't need it anytime soon--if ever!

    1. I forgot to say, we went with a gas fireplace because we don't have good access to firewood. If we were younger and had a non-gas fireplace, we would add a woodburning insert. If we didn't have a fireplace, we'd put in a wood stove--and keep at least a cord of firewood!


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