The big word that has dominated media coverage in Australia for way too long is the D-Word – D-R-O-U-G-H-T! The soil in most parts of the country has been dry as a bone. There are toddlers who don’t even know what rain is in some parts of the land. There just hasn’t been any since they were born. But in twenty-four short hours, we’ve gone from drought to flood.
Here in Murwillumbah, we are usually luckier than most – our overall rainfall is generally healthier than in other parts of Australia. But not this season. Even before summer officially started, rain was nowhere to be seen.
And with drought comes water-restrictions. A few weeks ago our local Council brought down the verdict:
Level Two Water Restrictions for the Tweed Shire!
I don’t have too big an issue with that because I try to limit the amount of water I use every day. I’ve lived in the bush and relied on tank-water (with very little rain to fill it) often enough to appreciate how precious every drop of water is.
But no so for my neighbours. They are gardeners. And Level Two restrictions means they have to ration the water out to their ever-thirsty plants.
I should explain that my place is where plants come to die. Not intentionally. It just happens. Apart from one Zanzibar Gem that even I can’t kill, an Aloe Vera plant that thrives on neglect, and one small succulent that has managed to remain in the upright position – I don’t do the gardening thing. I tend to either drown plants or they die of thirst. So I prefer to leave living garden things in other people’s capable hands.
My plant-loving neighbours can now only hose their gardens on odd or even days (depending on their house-number), and then only late in the afternoon. But if they want to carry a bucket-load of water to each garden, they can water whenever they like.
Drought to Flood!
A few days ago it was hot and dry in Murwillumbah, as it had been for a very long time.
But last night the rain came in earnest. Heavy drops that you could actually hear falling. And accompanied, sporadically, with thunder and lightning.
This morning, it’s a very different scene.
The soil the rain is falling on is so hard, from prolonged lack of moisture, that the rainwater can’t get through it. The water is just pooling on the surface. And naturally, that water has to go somewhere, so it is spreading out across roadways.
At least one road in the area could easily change its name from Ducat Street to Ducat Creek.
And a local cafe has closed for the day due to water backing up. There just isn’t anywhere for the excess water to go.
Floating Debris and Flooded Roads
The fires that have ravaged so much of our land since October have left very little in their path. Ash and unstable trees, the ones lucky enough to have escaped complete destruction, are all that is left. The water from the long overdue rain, unable to soak into the ground, has enough force to topple some of the trees that have not already been taken down by fire. Those trees, along with ash and other debris, is now at risk of being pushed onto roadways.
Sadly, while one of our Fire and Rescue teams was out saving motorists who were trapped in their vehicles on a flooded street, their Station was inundated with water. According to their Facebook page, the morning has been taken up with rescues in the area, and then sandbagging their station. All they hope for is a bit of downtime so they can eat, drink coffee, and brush their teeth. I guess the early morning call outs don’t leave much time for life’s basic necessities. I hope they get that downtime today.
Despite the sudden onset of the flood, which is why it is called flash flooding, we still welcome the water falling from the sky. Not only will it help relieve some of the drought-related problems, but hopefully it will extinguish the fires that are still burning.
The flooding is temporary. And if motorists take adequate precautions, there shouldn’t be too many problems.
Remember: If it’s flooded – forget it!