The month of March has been and gone, but not without a sting in the tail… I wrote before about the amount of rain this month – but the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Debbie brought heavy rain to the eastern coast of Queensland and NSW. We received another 217mm of rain over the last two days of the month. Our total rainfall for March was 692mm – That’s 28″ in old speak. More than Melbourne or Adelaide or Perth get in an average year.
Cyclone Debbie was a bitch – Debbie did Queensland good and proper. It was a very large system – and it crossed the coast as a slow moving Cat 3 (if I recall correctly). Innisfail, Proserpine, Ayr, the Whitsundays were all hammered with extensive damage to properties and crops. West Australia gets more cyclones, and in general, more intense cyclones. But WA is sparsely populated, and most housing has been built to post 1970 wind codes. (After Cyclone Althea (Townsville, 1971) and Cyclone Tracey (Darwin 1974), research into cyclone damage to housing resulted in a new building code for cyclonic regions). The older centres in Queensland and NSW have a lot of pre 1970s houses. Also, because cyclones are less common, folks are more complacent about cyclone and cyclone preparation. So big cyclones, like Yasi in 2011 and Debbie cause a lot of damage.
While Debbie brought us 200mm of rain, further north falls were significantly higher. South of Brisbane, falls of over 700mm were recorded. An awful lot of rain fell in the Tweed and Richnond/Wilson catchments. Muwillamba was flooded. The CBD of Lismore went underwater (again) – The Wilson River rose by almost 12m. At Coraki, where the Richmond and Wilson Rivers join, the rivers rose by 8m. The Pacific Highway was cut in several locations – initially up in the Tweed Valley, but as the flood waters move down stream, the Highway is cut again at Woodburn and New Italy.
On a personal level, the damage is indirect only. Su has her work at Art Aspects Gallery in Lismore. There the water was over 1.5m above floor level. But fortunately, and with the benefit of past experience, the artworks in the gallery were moved out before the flood. Another local glass artist – Alan Usher – was able to move his heavy equipment out of his studio in time – including his massive glass-working lathe – the water was over 2m deep in his studio. The newly renovated Coldstream Gallery at Ulmarra had planned a big gallery opening – although they weren’t flooded, family and artists were cut off by the flood waters.
But spare a thought for the folks who now have to deal with mud and silt in their homes, sodden carpets and plasterboard, and swollen and ruined kitchen cabinets, as the pile the sodden furniture and destroyed personal possessions. And all those who have lost their artwork.