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StormSafe Week: your stories

Published 23/08/2012

In honour of StormSafe Week, we asked the community to tell us how they've been affected by storms in their lives. The tales you told include collapsed ceilings, ruined cars and a wall of dust, and clearly demonstrate the need to prepare for storms now


Blown over

Grace Parella's damaged property

Grace Parrella shared pictures of the damage her Chirnside Park property suffered during a storm in August 2010.

“The wind brought down several large Cyprus pine trees on our house,” she said.

Home with her son and daughter, Grace sheltered in the room farthest from the trees when she noticed the wind.

“The damage bill was around $70,000; lucky we were insured!”

Unwelcome present

Having lived in both country Victoria and Melbourne, Natasha Joyce has experienced many storms over the years.

Staying in Bendigo on Christmas Day last year, Natasha assumed she was safe from the storm that was hitting Melbourne

“As I watched Facebook messages about hailstones ‘the size of lemons’ and flooded streets, I nibbled on pudding and joked that I hoped my new tomato plants were okay,” she said.

“Imagine my horror when my housemate called to inform me that part of the lounge room ceiling had collapsed under the weight of water pooling in the ceiling cavity, and that she was now standing in six inches of water!”

It was lucky Natasha’s housemate had been home at all, as she was able to save most of their belongings.

“What was left of her Christmas Day was spent sweeping out the lounge room and moving furniture,” Natasha said.

“The tomato plants, however, were fine.”

A ‘White Christmas’

The Beck family's Christmas presents.

The Beck family sent in pictures of their ‘White Christmas’, which saw their car damaged to the point of being written off. “Luckily nothing else was damaged. We all remained inside the house until it was over.”

A dusty day

Cathy Clark shared a story of an unusual storm she experienced when she was 12 years old in Bumberrah in [add area, eg north west Victoria].

“When someone says storm we think of lashing rain, high wind, darkness, unsafe roads, power cuts and fallen trees,” she said.

“(On) 8 February 1983, the weather was nothing as described before, but rather in excess of 40 degrees, stifling and strangely quiet. Even the animals could sense the impending storm and had hunkered down.
“We knew it was coming.  Situated on top of a hill completely unprotected, with clear views for a full 360 degree circle we felt extremely vulnerable.
“In the strange silence we were sent to close every door and window in every structure on the hobby farm, but, most importantly, bring in the white sheets off the clothesline.
“Then we waited.  Lined up along the verandah we watched the huge wall of dust move towards us. It was brown and red, with its length immeasurable. I do not even remember its height, other than huge!
As the wall of dust approach, someone asked “Where’s the dog?” ß this is a paraphrase, right? She didn’t say this?

“We had forgotten the poor old corgi who couldn’t outrun a chook, let alone a dust storm,” said Cathy.

“There went all our careful preparation to be indoors and secure by the time the storm hit. The dog's natural instinct had sent her to seek safety and she wasn't coming out for anyone. Just in time, she was found shut in the lean-to sleeping quarters built against the main shed.
“It was Australia personified, dry summer heat, grassless paddocks and my Koorie brother running barefoot (at a speed equivalent to Usain Bolt) with the corgi tucked under his arm to the safety of the house.
“I do not remember the storm, only the white sheets, the dog and that incredible, mammoth wall of dust.”


Hail versus car

Melissa's car (centre) is pounded by hail.

Melissa Cunningham has learned the hard way that you should park your car under cover during a storm.

As she enjoyed Christmas lunch with her family in Strathmore last year, hailstones “as big as golf balls” fell from the sky.

She and her family ventured outside to watch the storm that had set in. They filmed it on their phones so they could show Melissa’s brother, who was in London at the time.

“We were all watching it. We didn’t know how bad it was,” Melissa said.

Her car was parked on the street as Melissa filmed the hailstones bouncing off of it. Neighbours were running out to cover their vehicles in blankets.

“I didn’t notice my car had been damaged until the next day,” Melissa said.

“I was up on a balcony and when I looked down on it, I could see it was covered in all these little dents.”

Hail had left more than 150 dents all over Melissa’s car, and repairs left her without a vehicle for three weeks. Her mother’s car, which was partly under cover, had sustained about 60. Her dad’s car, which had been parked in the driveway during the storm, was unscathed.

“It’s Christmas Day. You’re eating and drinking; you just don’t think something like that is going to happen,” Melissa said.

“When a storm happens again, I’ll probably cover my car.”