Everybody perceives the world through their own lens and reacts in their own way. While those who like to be prepared and take precautions might check the weather bureau when they see a storm front, I grabbed my camera jumped in the car heading to the beach to get the shot. One hell of a storm was brewing with a towering bank of deep purple clouds contrasting with perfect blue sky, creating a photographic opportunity too good to miss. I jumped in the car and drove down to the beach as fast as I could within the speed limit and without hitting any of the gazillion ducks and their offspring, which have taken over the streets.
Once I was down on the beach in photography mode, seeing the world through 6x 4, I was so focused on capturing those shots that I didn’t even question whether those clouds were harbingers of doom. That those kind of clouds, the really spectacular ones, mean business…a severe storm and it’s not the sort of thing you want to get caught up in.
I was still on the beach when large, heavy raindrops started plopping down in quick succession. With no time to wait, I headed back to the car. By this stage, the wind had whipped up and was sweeping up the track. The wind was getting strong. No sooner than I’d made it back to the car, when hail started pelting down sounding like machine gun fire. It was truly terrifying especially as I watched in horror as the hail belted against the windscreen and I wondered just how strong that glass was. Was it going to smash. With the storm hitting the beach front right in front of me and being completely unprotected, the car really took a beating and I hoped it was all going to be okay.
I also made a mental note…no more storm chasing. This was the second time I’d been caught in a storm with my camera and after a surfer was struck by lightening recently, I now know that I need to take these storms a lot more seriously. Photos are not worth dying for!
Another not so minor detail involved the kids. They’d decided to stay home. We’re only minutes from the beach so not a big deal except there I was bailed up in the car with hail the size of golf balls battering down while they were at home. It was too treacherous to drive and I was naturally wanting to get back and so decided to chance it and drove home through the hail…quite a feat for such a nervous driver.
The streets and gardens were covered in 5-10 centimetres of thick hail. It’s the closest we’ve ever come to having snow and it would’ve been incredibly fun for the kids, if these same “golf balls” hadn’t smashed multiple holes in our back roof. While the Laserlite is great for letting the sun through, it had become brittle and bam.
The roof was leaking like a sieve.
Mister was on the phone to Emergency when I finally made it through the door, totally drenched. The kids took me out the back, to what we call; “The Green Room”. My desk is positioned against a huge window overlooking the garden and my keyboard was literally swimming. The file cards I’ve actually been using for “The Book Project”, had also gone for a swim and my Paris diary, which has survived 22 years including being carted around Europe in my backpack, was also a tad wet.Photo albums, computer equipment and more clutter than you could ever imagine, all getting drench in the line of fire.
I called Emergency back and called the State Emergency Service. They;re the incredible volunteers who risk their own personal safety to put tarps over leaking roofs in the middle of awful storms without being paid a cent. We ended up with 4 SES volunteers out in the yard with one up the ladder or on the roof. Such relief, especially as Geoff was at work and Mister was wanting to be the hero. Get up on the roof and fix the holes himself.
Another point I haven’t mentioned, is that having all that water inside and slippery surfaces is treacherous for people with mobility issues. I fall easily enough without assistance and after breaking my foot in a fairly basic fall, I’m also conscious that such falls aren’t a laughing matter!
I’m proud of our efforts coping under such adverse conditions. We really were thrown in the deep end and had to think about how to best overcome the leaks. I pulled out the shower curtain and used it to cover the book shelf, which was still dry but I didn’t want to take any chances. We put a tarp over my desk once we’d cleared everything off. My daughter, who was incarnating her Cub Scout leader, was sorting out where to put the umpteen containers we required to catch the drips. She did a great job. Mister also did well. He was very concerned about how other people we going and I had to keep reminding him that we’d lost our roof and had our own crisis. It was great, however, to see his community-mindedness.
Thank goodness Geoff arrived home while the SES was here and he was able to dig out some sheets of iron sheeting to stick over the top. They screwed it down and put sandbags and boards on top to hold it down and even applied some silicone to plug the gaps.
We are so incredibly grateful.
After going through all of this…being stuck in the hail storm, the damage to the roof and all that rain in the house and having to move all that stuff and the damage…I have some incredible photos…and a couple of containers of hail in our freezer and a lot of hard work ahead.