Saturday, 11 June 2016

Launceston Floods

Last weekend there were severe weather warnings for early this week. There had been a lot of rain and storms on the mainland and it was heading down to Tasmania. I didn't think too much of it, except that I knew it was going to be an awful few days at school as it would mean that we would be getting a lot of rain, and that would also mean that the kids would be stuck inside for days.

It rained a lot on Sunday night, and all day Monday.  By mid afternoon we heard that part of a suburb close to our school was being evacuated because the river was rising very quickly.  Four of our families that I teach live in the area, and luckily at the time we were having a parent meeting with an interpreter.  Through the interpreter we explained that they needed to evacuate because of the risk of flooding in their homes.  Not long after we started to explain it to them, some of the families began getting phone calls from other family members who had also heard the same thing.

It was almost the end of the school day, and already other students were being picked up early as they were needing to either evacuate, or get home before they wouldn't be able to get through because of the floods.

We got all of our students together early, and explained to them that they would need to leave school early with their parents, and made sure that they all got home safely.  At the end of the day I got a text message from Jalen's school saying that all the students had been moved to the gym and that students could be collected from school earlier they needed to be.

I sent him a message to say I would come and pick him up from school as we heard that traffic was going to be crazy, with roads shutting down and people leaving school and work early to get home.   When I got to his school he said that the floods had come right up to the school car park and was about to reach the building, so they got all the students to leave their classrooms.  I took him and his friends Zoe and Skye home and saw some of the flooding on the way home.

We are very lucky as we live away from the rivers in our city, and also on top of a hill so we were very safe.  I knew that the Gorge would be in flood and because of the part of town we live in, I knew the traffic wouldn't be bad to get there so after school we went up to see what it was like.  It's our favourite place to hang out in the summer time - we literally go there almost every day.

There's usually a beautiful pool in the middle of a beautiful grassed area, BBQs, and a playground with swings and a slide.   When we got there it was ALL under water.  The Gorge often gets flooded in the winter, but we had never ever seen it this high before.  It had reached the bottom of the toilet block and it was so powerful that it was like the ocean - with waves lapping up on the footpath.
 Half of Launceston were also there to check it out.
We were able to walk up the path towards the swinging bridge, but weren't able to stay there long as they had council workers and security workers moving everyone back up the path and were blocking off the path.
The water was so noisy and powerful!

 It was an unbelievable sight to see that everything was covered with water.
  This is how it usually looks! 
We followed what was going on with the floods all week as it was all over the news, some of our students weren't able to return home for a couple of nights, a friend's home was flooded and a lot of roads around our city were shut down as they shut all the flood gates.  It was all everyone was talking about as our city waited to see if the new flood levies could hold off most of the water and save thousands of homes from being flooded. It was the biggest flood we have had in our city since 1929 so it was pretty big news.

Our local council was posting a lot of photos as the flood went on, on their Facebook page and I couldn't believe how badly flooded our local club's soccer grounds were! You can just see the goals sitting out of the water on the left hand side.  No wonder soccer training was cancelled!
Jay was excited to hear that his school was closed on Wednesday as there was another threat that the flood waters were going to peak again.  On Thursday after school we met up with my cousin Tim and his kids, and went to check out the flood waters at another part of town.  These waters are gushing down from the Gorge to Kings Bridge.
We decided to walk to the lookout on the zigzag track.
From the track you could see how high the water was towards the Seaport.
 Lots of people were out looking at the floodwater and it was fun to run into Jay's friends Zoe and Edina (who he went to the Leaver's Dinner with).
We then walked along to the Seaport. Stillwater Restaurant had already been flooded, and the water was peaking again and was lapping at their door.
The newly planted Peace Garden took a bit of a battering.
There was so much foam in the water.
Hallam's had also been flooded already and the water was slowly rising back up again.

The water is usually back below the fence.
Royal Park was covered with water.  There is usually footpaths and boardwalks here.
We joked about throwing a few sausages on the BBQ :)
I don't work on Fridays and if my cousin Tim doesn't have to work (he does shift work) we often catch up for brekky or lunch.  Kobe had complained on Thursday night that he felt sick, and in the morning he was still complaining. A lot of people have been sick at school, but Kobe often complains he is sick when he gets really tired (usually towards the end of term).  I think because he knew it was my day off, he thought his chances of being able to stay home was better than usual.

I told him he had to go to school and that they could ring me if his tummy got worse (he was complaining of a stomach ache) as I could tell that he was okay to go.  He started crying straight away and said it was really, really bad, so I felt like an awful Mum and told him that he could stay home.

Within ten minutes though his stomach ache didn't seem so bad and I was cranky as I knew he really could've been at school, but instead was going to be at home with me all day and it was my day off work! (see definitely not Mother of the Year anymore....I love my kid free days!).   I told him that if he was staying home he would have to come and do a lot of jobs with me, and he was fine with that.

It was actually nice to have the day with him as he really wasn't that sick (I do believe he had a stomach ache but he would've been totally fine at school)  and we met up with Tim and had brekky and then decided to go up to the Gorge to see if the floodwater had gone down very much. 
This is how the Gorge usually looks:
We were surprised that you could now see the top of the playground (sorry for the dodgy phone photos here).

We were surprised that the chairlift was back up and running and Tim suggested that we go on it.  At first I thought it sounded very exciting and thought it was a great idea, but after we bought our tickets and I realised I was about to dangle in the air over floodwaters (and the seats really don't feel very safe as it just has a little bar holding you in, that flips up and over very easily and doesn't lock in place) I started to panic! I thought Kobe would be just as scared as I was, but he was so excited and couldn't wait to get on. 

Kobe and I went on the first chairs, and Tim went on one on his own behind us.  
I absolutely hate Ferris wheels because I hate the feeling of dangling up high and moving so slow at the same time, and I had the same feelings as being on a Ferris wheel when I was on the chairlift!   I was so nervous I couldn't even lift my hand to touch my phone screen to make it focus properly! :)
There were a few moments when it was okay, but then I quickly started having irrational thoughts that I was going to drop my phone in the water, that I was going to fall in the water, that Kobe would drop down and I wouldn't be able to save him, or that the whole chair would just fall down.  I then started to think about what would happen if the chairlift broke down!  No need for exercise that day as my heart was racing just sitting there!

Kobe loved it and kept turning around and waving to Tim.  I was freaking out saying 'keep still Kobe! Stop turning around! Hold on Kobe!'.

The water is a lot further down than it looks.

I was so happy to get to the other side, but started to panic when I realised that the only way back was to get back on again (all the paths out of the Gorge and the suspension bridge was closed because of the flooding).
We walked to the top of Alexandra lookout to get a different view of the flood.

The suspension bridge is closed until Engineers give it the all clear. 
The ride on the way back wasn't as bad as the way over, but I did go into a panic when the chairlift stopped for a few seconds! 
When we saw the floods on Monday the water was almost over the top of the roof of the BBQ area.  It did get higher the next day and went to the top of the toilet doors.
This morning we met up with Tim and Helene and their kids and walked up to the Gorge from Kings Bridge.  We could see how far the water has already gone down, but it was still flowing very fast.  
Teenagers! I freaked out when Tim pointed out where Jalen was!  Apparently he was 'very safe' but I still yelled at him to get down!
The water had gone down a lot since yesterday and you can now see some of the grassed area, but it had lots of massive boulders all over it.
It's been a crazy week, and I wish that something so incredible and fascinating wasn't also so destructive.  We were lucky in Launceston because the floods could've been a lot worse, but the new flood levies worked well and saved thousands of houses and businesses being flooded.  In Tasmania there has been a number of deaths and there are still two men missing, and also hundreds of animals  have died.  We are thinking of those who have been affected by the flooding and hope that our beautiful city returns to normal very soon.
This is the usual sight we see in the summer time. 


  1. I've seen on the news lots of flooding in several areas, incl. Texas, China, and in many places in Europe lately as well.

  2. That's nuts!!! ( and that chair lift!! Surely that's a health and safety thing?!! Maybe not in
    I would be freaking out too.
    ( how much to ride it?)

    Amazing pictures.
    Before and after shots, thanks for sharing. :)

    Aussie really copped it bad....
    We got a little but nothing that impressive

    Nic in NZ

    1. I think the chairlift operation any time without proper belts is a health and safety issue, but apparently it's more important to make money ;) It costs $12 one way of $15 return.

  3. Tummy ache...fine you can stay home but you have to vacuum the whole house and bed at 6 pm so you are better tomorrow. ....

    Oh look, they are now well.

    1. I don't think Kobe would even care if I said that. I think it's just that's he's super tired as its the end of term and this usually happens towards the end of term. As much as I love me kid free days it wasn't bad having him with me - was nice to spend the days with him in the end :) And luckily he's doing really well at school or else I really would've pushed more that he went.

  4. Fair enough..give the boy some slack...but you can't go having amazing adventures with him or it will be every Friday!!!!
    Bet his brothers were jealous...

    I so hear you re child free days, now mine are all at school if one has to stay home I get antzy even though it is also their home too!! Lol

    Go the chair lift operator....making it rain with the big bucks!! ( literally)
    A unique experience and one that probably won't ever happen again, going over the swollen gorge on some metal bars with a seat.
    That's scary...
    You can see how people get swept away and drown, the currents looked very strong on your earlier pics. ESP with the waves ( what's the foam, !? How weird is that)
    But glad all was well re the storms for you and yours.

    Tassie does look very pretty , and you have some great places to visit.
    And nice beaches . Win win really

    1. Yeah Tassie is beautiful - like NZ :) the Gorge actually floods most years, but not as much as this since 1929.
      The foam was because the current was so strong that it just created so many bubbles which all just accumulated where the current wasn't as strong. Amazing to see.


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