A much-delayed post on the storm

I started writing this on 24 November last year, but didn’t get it finished because I had higher priority things to deal with.

The post:

Last Sunday I was on my way back home from a productive week away in Santa Clara. My flight (UA-863, SFO->SYD) suffered from the cattle class toilets being unusable for almost the entire flight, so we all had to use the loos in business class. The two (downstairs) loos. All 300+ passengers. Ugh. We also had significant turbulence (by which I mean that we had the seatbelt light on for several hours, and I was shaken around in my seat) – just like the trip over to SFO. Not pleasant.

I managed to get through the fairly quiet Sydney airport Immigration queue, my baggage was amongst the first out (despite me being seated in row 60 at the back of the plane), and I bolted around to the transfer desk to make sure I got my flight up to Brisbane.

The trip up to Brisbane was uneventful until we were about to start our descent, at which point the captain advised that Brisbane airport was experiencing a major storm and we would have to wait. So we did – another 40 minutes which basically doubled the length of the flight. When we were cleared to land the pilot put us on the tarmac very smoothly, but we then had to stop quite a distance from the terminal because the tarmac had been shut down due to the storm, and we had to wait for it to be started up again. [Greg pointed me to http://airnation.net/2012/11/18/lightning-strike-anz-747/ which, while not an actual strike on an aeroplane, does indicate why the tarmac was shut down!] Amazingly, my baggage was again almost the first to come off, so I hopped in the first available cab and headed home.

It was really, really good to be home.

Later in the afternoon we wandered down to our local Coles to get the makings for pizza and have a general leg stretch. We also noticed that there was a storm warning from the BoM, so we kept watching the weather radar to see how far off it might be.

Around 4pm I got the pizza dough made, and C was all excited because she’s now able to help me with some of the processes. About 5pm we started preparing the toppings, and then about 5:20pm J called out that I should come upstairs. She was in the back bedroom with the kids watching what turned out to be rather scary.

After grabbing that video (and getting quite worried about the safety of the back window while doing so) I headed downstairs, noticed the size of the splashes from the pool as the hail came in and grabbed some video of that as well. Then I noticed that both skylights (1m x 0.5m) had shattered, the table was covered in water and shards, and carefully dashed (does that happen?) to grab J’s laptop and phone from the kitchen bench.

J and the kids were in the loungeroom. A was freaking out, J was barely holding it together, C was upset and scared.

Then the storm was done, gone, moved on to the next impact point. All done in 20 minutes.

Hopped on the phone to call the SES (5:49pm, I made a note), grabbed some towels to put on the floor and then put my shoes on. Our neighbours from across the road popped in to help (M sat down with the kids and read them stories, C helped J and I mop), and I grabbed some more video of the damage and took photos as well.

[Time passes]

We tried to get through to our insurer that evening, but we gave up after close to two hours on hold. Also because our cordless phone batteries died.

The SES finally got to us at about 10pm; there were a lot of calls for them to deal with and it was only after they arrived that I discovered that I should have alerted the dispatcher to the fact that we have young children. Apparently young’uns and oldies get bumped up the queue a little


On Monday the 19th we managed to get through to the insurer, filed a claim and got the process started. We went around the house and took more photos, did more cleaning up and tried to put things back in order as best we could. Unfortunately our adsl2 modem had fried (as had the psu in my workstation) so we were without fast internet and our recorded TV shows that the kids love to watch. We also discovered that the TV antenna was knackered – ABC2 (the most-watched channel under this roof) kept coming and going.

It took another few days before O’Brien Glass could get to us. Unfortunately, because the broken window is toughened (for a bathroom), over a bathtub and on the second floor, we had to get a special piece made to measure and scaffolding will be required before it can be replaced. In the meantime we’ve got a clear sort of large-area bandaid over the cracks. The insurer’s “make-safe” team managed to get out to us on the Thursday (after a building assessor and a roofing specialist had visited), so we could then use the kitchen and diningroom area again. Our stress levels decreased a little since we didn’t feel like we had a mythological weapon hanging over us.

The pool: it’s still green.

end of the post