Monday, October 04, 2010

The rain came down and the floods came up

I am feeling a trifle damp!

Dearest husband and I are holed up in our house, on our hill, watching the flood waters rise. Darling daughter - luckily - spent last night sleeping over at a friend's house, well away from the flooding, and as we packed an extra pair of undies I've just been on the phone negotiating an extra night's stay! Someone did manage to get through to us this morning in a 4WD but he said he'd driven through water and it was rising; apparently it's due to peak at around 2pm this afternoon which I guess must be high tide. The usual problem is that the local creeks feed into Coffs Creek which in turn feeds into the mangrove flats and thence out to sea, but if there's a high tide the water flowing down the valley gets pushed back into the (wholly inadequate!) storm drains and we all get flooded in.

At this point I could easily get diverted sideways into a rant about the stupidity of local town planners over the years or the corrupt practices of our local council on planning issues, or how about the amazingly short-sighted Local Development Plan that envisages hundreds of extra homes being built up this valley, concreting over the natural drainage and forcing more run-off into the overwhelmed drains? Or how about this: the RTA's plan (although they won't admit it - allegedly it's still for "public consultation") to run a small diversion of the Pacific Highway through the bottom of the valley, despite it's proximity to the (sinking) coastline and the inadequate drainage... but I won't.

Instead I'll point out that as part of our environmentally sensitive response to our piece of land we've put all the flood mitigation/drainage works that we can think of (and afford...) such as culverts, new dams, rocking (i.e. areas of rock in the path of the run-off to slow down the flow of water to reduce erosion), tree planting, swales, rainwater tanks and a choice of porous driveway materials to soak up the rain rather than concrete that would simply move the water off to somewhere else. What we can't do anything about is Coopers' Creek which runs across the dirt access road where it crosses the bottom of the valley: it flows through some lagoons at that point, and through a massive culvert under the road, but the creek drains an entire valley system and with three days of non-stop rain there will be too much water for the culvert so the dirt road will flood, and further down the valley where it joins the Pacific Highway the road is flooded again for exactly the same reason.

In the 24 hours to this morning we officially had 176mm or almost 7"; the previous 24 hours was 150mm or approximately 6" but I can tell you that the orange bucket you can see in the photo is about 14" or 350mm high and it sat out in the open all day yesterday and filled up to the brim during daylight hours! I suspect the discrepancy arises from the fact that the Coffs Harbour weather station isn't situated anywhere near here and I think we got more rain than the official report.

Rain aside, we're doing OK now that the leaks have been sorted out. Our builder came up yesterday and cursed a bit when he saw that the roofers had placed an open-ended down pipe from the upper roof directly on the join between the lower roof and the walls. Not surprisingly considering the volume of water we're talking about, the water found a path around the flashing and started coming through above the windows in our hall, which isn't what you want when your house has been finished for less than two months! Once he'd finished muttering Warren went up on the roof and diverted the down pipe temporarily, which has immediately resolved the problem.

Meanwhile of course the solar system isn't receiving much sunlight, but luckily we did a run to the petrol station yesterday and filled the generator and then refilled the diesel cannisters so we should be OK. Darling daughter's happier at her friend's house than she would be at home today, and we've got enough food, wood and diesel to last us a few days. Hopefully the rain is forecast to ease off by this evening so we're hoping life will return to normal tomorrow.


dinahmow said...

Ah, yes...the local Council/planners who don't care what mayhem results as long as they get the rates revenue. No- I will not rant here!

But I do understand, Sara. Hope you're coming right now.

Carol said...

Well, that stops my complaining about the rain right now. Our gardens have loved it and seem to have grown inches over the last couple of days, but the chook yard is less than inviting. Still, as long as I don't fall flat on my back in it, that's not a complaint. I hope your rain stops, the flood eases and your leaks (yikes!) get fixed asap.

Anna Mavromatis said...

I wish you blue skies soon!

Andy said...

Not so bad in here London as I thought and at home, the one thing you can say about the Oakville town planners is the manage the water well, even if the do build everywhere.Something good about Canada.

ronnie said...

hello? mr weather man? don't you think it would be nice to share the wet stuff around a little more?

sorry that things are icky for you (not helped by stoopid council/ other gov decision-making) but I've got to admit - I'm feeling jealous..... all that lovely wet stuff! NO FAIR!

Amanda said...

Blimey! i don't know what to say! But it seems a long way from the gentle hills of old England, where it seems to rain almost constantly but never floods, just gets greener. I guess it's a "real" Asutralian experience - floods or bushfires - but I quite enjoy the easy life in a city - how pathetic is that?!?


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