Thursday, June 15, 2006

The big freeze

Wow, there is nothing like 36+ hours without power during one of the biggest storms in decades to shake up the routine a little. The sort of storm that can cover the South Island in a blanket of snow. The sort of day the Weather people should warn you about but somehow fail to see coming. Let me rewind a little to Monday morning.

I get out of bed and walk to the light switch in the dark. click... click... b^&&@r it, bulb's blown. Stumble... Stumble... click... b^&&@r it, power's gone. I stumble my way to the kitchen to re-load the stove with coal, its a cold morning. Summer is on my heels already demanding her morning walk. I open the kitchen door to let her outside, thud... I hit something solid?

After more stumbling in the dark I find the torch. What is going on... Snow? A lot of snow, 30cm already and coming down thick and fast. I wake Helen. We stand and watch the storm outside. There is a beauty to extreme weather, it has the power to mesmerise.

Reality hits. Its a huge storm, we are snowed in without power. To make matters worse the wood pile is covered in snow. To top it off a short trip outside to the coal bunker reminds me we really really need more coal.

We get the basics done. Get the chooks some food and lock them in. Get a big pile of wood indoors so it can start to dry. Fill the coal stove and refill the coal scuttle.

We have no internet because the router needs power but at least we have a phone line, an outside link. The Electricity company's phone system lets me know I have called during a busy period and should call back later. When I finally get through to a human they let me know we will have power up at 8.30. I really should have thought 12.5 hours and not 30 minutes when I heard this and with hindsight, even 12 hours was optimistic.

I call work to let them know I won't be in. We now know there is snow on the coast in Christchurch, a good 50Km away.

All that is left to do now is get the fire going, settle down and wait out the storm. In the end the storm kept going most of the day and dumped about 60cm of snow on us.

Spot the Mini

We ventured out at times bashing snow off trees and plants trying to minimise loss but the damage to the garden will be huge. We won't know the full extent until the thaw but many trees and plants are crushed and broken. At least the house has held up well.

The only thing that matters during situations like this are heat, food and shelter. We lived in front of the fire the first 24 hours. When you have no idea when you will get power back you just have to get on with the basics.

Tuesday was clear blue skys so we could get out. Do a stock take, clear snow and dig out the cars. Once the road outside had been cleared we could venture out and get some coal and more food. We then got the fire going and started to settle down for another night without power. We got power back about 7pm that night.

This was a massive storm. Some still don't have power and might not be connected until next week. There will be damage to property and lots of dead live stock but the Kiwi's are a hardy bunch.

Was it really that bad... Not really.

Once your mind accepts the situation you just get on with it. Time changes and loses meaning, similar to being on a long flight. We were mentally set for the second night without power so when it came back on it was a little while before we put on the TV to get the news.

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At 4:47 AM, Anonymous Mike Moorfield said...

heading for a white kiwi xmas then? :)

At 11:20 AM, Blogger The Leggatts said...

Hi bro :-) Actually we'll be spending Kiwi Xmas in sunny Brisbane (thawing out!)... Sis xx

At 3:25 AM, Anonymous Dad said...

jeoiiThought you'd be heading off to the piste!! I know I would.

Keep warm.


At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Bro said...

yeah, and who are you seeing? 'COLD'play lol

At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Bro said...

btw, its SO wierd seeing the pics now we've been there, it all feels so familiar :)

At 1:24 PM, Blogger The Leggatts said...

Hoping to get up to the slopes soon, just don't tell my physio!!

Although ooking at Mt Hutt's webcam I'm pleased we stayed at home - it's heaving!! Plenty of clearing up to do here...


At 6:22 PM, Blogger katsblog said...

glad that we chose to drive down and explore otago and was warmer in Invercargill than Sumner!

PS sorry we never got to have our coffee or shopping!


At 2:14 PM, Blogger Helen Leggatt said...

Kat I see you're now staying and renting in Invercargill!! I think you've done the length of the country now! Hope you settle there and hope to visit you soon - I won't ask about the shopping there!



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