It was absolutely bucketing down two weeks ago here in South East Queensland. We had days of rain and flash flooding. Nearby Caboolture got 330mm of rain in 12 hours.
This was a pain for two reasons:
Firstly: I’m taking care of animals who live outdoors so i have to go out and interact with them, consequently getting wet myself. Also the dogs walk mud in unless I laboriously wipe their bloody paws every time.
Secondly: on the day in question I was catching up with some class mates in Deception Bay (normally a short drive away) to do some course work. Even early in the morning there was a lot of water everywhere, including the road. The ocean was ALL choppy waves and grey skies. We finished our course work about 3.30pm. Drew headed off for work and I headed to Burpengary. “Be careful driving!” said Brooke, and I thought ‘yes must be careful on my quarter of an hour drive home. Drive slow and get under cover to enjoy the storm.’
What a drive. Over an hour I think; not sure, lost track of time. First thing to go wrong was the road I came in on now had a huge ‘detour’ sign barring my return. Bugger. Never been in Deception Bay before! Pulled over, checked Google maps and noticed my phone was under 10% power. Oh great, just when I might have an actual emergency going on my phone is about to die!
I found an alternate route and it was shared by every other car shunting along on the wet roads, trying to get out of here. Good conditions for an accident.
The roads were completely covered in water at points and sometimes it was up to the axle of my little yellow car! “Please don’t break down!” I begged my 4-wheeled inanimate object. I used to read about people who drove into flooded roads and yes it’s dumb but actually being in a bastard of a storm I can see how it happens. Half the time I couldn’t tell how deep the water was; and I was desperate to get home. Somewhere warm, with food and my partner to tell my adventures to. I did NOT want to be stuck in my cold car, with nothing to eat and wet clothes to sit in. And the longer I stayed out in this rain the more water would be on the ground and on the roads, making being stranded a distinct possibility. Forge on, I decided, in lieu of any better idea. (I was right to be apprehensive about being stranded. Drew ended up “stuck in a petrol station somewhere, can’t get to work, can’t get home”!)
I told myself that everything was fine just as I braked for some amber traffic lights – and the car just aquaplaned (ie “slid”) right through! It came to rest in the middle of the intersection as I held the steering wheel with white knuckles and made some strange whimpering noises. I took a deep breath, pressed the accelerator and went off with a little fish tale wiggle. Lots of lightning, thunder, cars sploshing waves of water over my windscreen. I was simultaneously aware of what I had to do (“stay calm, focus on what’s in front of you, not too fast, KEEP GOING!”) as well as the adrenaline buzz of a nervous body.
There were more detours and all the roads still working were crammed. Tried to drive as close to the centre of the road to avoid the water on the edges. Except that meant i was closer to oncoming traffic in conditions that made a ‘wobble’ quite likely. Aaaah!
When I finally arrived at the street I was staying on, it wasn’t full of water or blocked by downed trees, which felt like a victory. The ditches either side of the road were absolutely full of water though, and I wondered how longer the road would be clear? Forge ahead! I made it to the driveway so happy to be alive and home that I really didn’t care about getting out of the car and getting wet to open the gate. Everything felt great, even patting the imbecile dogs as they stood there wagging their tails with their big vacant eyes. The alpacas were all crammed together underneath a shelter looking wretched, one or two dispiritedly chewing cud as they stared out on a world gone mad with water, thunder and lightning.
Kerry had the dogs inside and they were dry, which was good news for me. Towelling down two soaked dogs is hard work. Particularly Oliver, the sweet but IQ-challenged golden retreiver. Thunder is one of the few things that get through the Ollie-bubble. Normally he’s happily oblivious to most of his environment (with the exception of food) but with storms he gets wound up with lots of pacing around, whimpering and looking scared.
As i was sitting down on the lounge next to Kerry Oliver jumped up and sat beside me. First time he’s even tried that. He was obviously distressed so I cut him some slack and let him stay there. I leaned back into him just to give him some touch and connect to him through the fear. The pressure of my back leaning on him seemed to calm him a bit. I could feel his breath as his ribs pressed into my back, he was breathing fast and hard, poor bugger. Scared out of his wits. So we sat there, me lying back against him and his head on Kerry. He stayed there for a good 20 minutes. Even when the thunder cracked overhead he stayed still, so being able to wedge himself between me and the lounge seemed to help.
Harry – the adorable narcissist – was a contrast. Happy to be inside and sharing the room with some humans, he played on the floor with one of his toys and even fell asleep for a while. He had a whale of a time while poor old Ollie quivered on the lounge. It really is all in the mind…
We were going to watch some Babylon 5 DVDs until a big bolt of thunder reminded me to unplug everything. So we sat there, bereft of electronic distraction, and listened to the storm, leaning on a terrified Golden Retriever while a labradoodle played with his stuffed green fly.