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.
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.
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;
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;
Encourage the neighbours to keep more on hand!! It might help your supplies eek out a little longer and you can swap where necessary;
You really need a way to resupply stuff with a shorter shelf life – vege garden, eggs, milk, etc.
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);
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!);
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!) .
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!);
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.
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….
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….”