Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hailstorms, wheelie bins and... ZOEY! NOOOO!

(scroll down for a bit of video)

You know, it's not every day you're startled by a fireman doing that slow, almost movie-cliché walk through your home, flashing a strong torch through your house. But that's the surprise the LGBB and I got of our lives earlier today after they came inside to inspect our house for damage. It was honestly like watching a show on the telly. Except it was our house he was in and we were walking towards each other.

You know when sometimes you kind of play down something because you're pretty sure it just MUST be you over-exaggerating? But then you see it or hear it from a professional or someone with some nouse and it's not until then that you go "Oh.... oh, holy crap.... yeah, I guess that is pretty bad/dangerous. Okay, yep, we'll take that help, thanks for the gesture." The firey has called the SES for us. We're going to be waiting hours. But it's the thought that counts *playful fist on chin*

The fire brigade were doing slow laps of the neighbourhood, helping out their community and stopping to inspect at the most tarp-laden or crowd-gathered places. I had been down the "extension end" (solid as a rock, it is, and thank goodness) with Lolly, checking for any signs of water damage - there were none - and this firey must have been ushered inside by Steve, who at this point was concerned we might have a caved-in roof soon if this rain didn't stop. There was no way at that point to assess the damage of this "Act Of God".

An enormous, vicious and expensive storm swept Melbourne this afternoon.

Steve and the LGBB were on their way (in the dark and brooding weather) to have a dip in the local pool when this huge storm cloud dumped baseball and golfball size hail stones on them. In my little car!

About 2:30pm on Saturday afternoon

Having no idea what exactly was about to happen, I was working at the kitchen bench at the time. It got dark all of a sudden. Dark even for this old weatherboard [yes, yes, very funny, I mean the house, not me].

"Huh, strange looking cloud," I says to myself as put down the camera and continue working. Then the phone rang and it was Steve.

"Not to alarm you or anything, buuuuut..." and he told me what was going on, about five minutes' drive up the road, where he and Lol had been forced to pull over and take cover under a large tree. I have no idea how, but my Renault would end up with not even a scratch on it, let alone a dint. 'Assmy grrrl.

"Golf ball hailstones, you're exaggerating," I said, chortling. And then.... the first one hit the kitchen window as I was staring out of it at the eery light moving across the neighbour's backyard. "HOLY FARK! Either the kid next door has a reeeeally good pitch for a 14 month-old or they're coming!"

What followed was a noise so deafening I cowered at floor level with the two dogs, who luckily just happened to be inside - a rare treat for them. I had to hang up from Steve, it was impossible for us to hear each other. He had said to me that the LGBB was okay, not too alarmed. He was obviously doing a good job at allaying any concern about the noise in the car.

Meanwhile, back at the house, I could hear a neighbour screaming, I could hear glass smashing and the sound of the hailstones hitting the weatherboards was sickening. As if the Heavens themselves were belligerantly piffing these things at our houses with such hatred.

The force of Mother Nature again humbled me today.

Inside, I heard the sound of water running not more than five minutes after the pelting started. I had the presence of mind to grab the video camera (I was thinking Steve would NEVER believe me) and because it was so dark and I was scared of being electrocuted as there were obviously leaks in the roof, all you can hear is something that sounds like someone running a bath. Except it was just inside my front door. And too close to the wall for me to place a bucket under. I tried to trace the flow and realised it was streaming in from everywhere, around a lovely old leadlight window in our entrance, and I could hear more very fast-running water inside the wall. Gahhh!!! I raced to get towels and buckets and when I opened the laundry door, I saw a huge puddle of water careening its way across the floor in there, apparently coming from yet another leak somewhere behind the adjoining kitchen-laundry wall! Ah, the joys of living in an old circa 1940's house.

So back to the front door, I hastily dabbed at the wall, which began to bulge - the plaster shall have to be replaced, for sure - and mused, trying to compute it, that I was inside my own house but had rainwater splashing in my face. Water was everywhere. Just... everywhere. And then I saw the external hard drive. You know, the backup drive? The one you grab on your way out the front door In Case Of Emergency Evacuation? Yuh-huh, that one. It was being weed on by the heavens. I let out an expletive and dashed over to the kitchen bench, placing it safely there. Feeling quite hopeless after a few minutes, with sodden bath sheets being flung out the front door so I didn't damage the floor any more than it may already have been, I heard another (now familiar) sound. More water! This time from the kitchen.

I dumped what I was holding and raced back over and there, raining down inside straight onto the kitchen bench were another THREE leaks. These ones coming out at light fitting points. And one very suspicious-looking water stain appearing on the ceiling. My laptop, Steve's iPhone, the camera and yep, you guessed it, the already sodden hard drive, all in the line of the coursing water. All appear to have escaped damage, though (except we haven't attempted to test the drive, we'll wait for a couple of days before turning it on... I reeeeally don't like the chances....)

It was all rather hopeless. We lost our beautiful stain glass window in the ensuite, it smashed from one end of the bathroom to the other, with telltale little puddles of brown muddy mush where melted "golf balls" met their ultimate fate on the floor. The LGBB and Steve, having arrived home after a very slow drive - during which Steve also had to dodge bobbing wheelie bins as they floated across busy intersections at him from the shopping centre - held torches for me while I painstakingly swept up shards of glass. The toothbrushes and anything else on the countertop were binned, there was no taking any chances, not with this fine glass.

In the wake of the fast storm, the street rallied together beautifully - as they have done regularly already in the two years we have been living here - and we all pitched in at each others' places, tarping over severely broken windows, corking and covering roofs (like ours, with so many cracked tiles it instantly created a bit of an issewe indoors) and also just sharing stories and debriefing. It reminded me so much of Black Saturday. Before I knew it, we had three blokes I've never met, hoiking themselves up onto our steeply pitched and dangerous tiled old roof, fixing it as much as they could until the SES can arrive (they're yet to come, we may not see them til daylight, we may not see them at all). We are apparently expecting more downpours tomorrow and everybody was keen to ensure we would all avoid any further inside damage, though I hope sincerely that there will be no more damaging and dangerous hail.

But we are safe. Lolly is passed out in her bed, grossly offended that I threw out her Zoey toothbrush and exhausted from reassuring her take-everywhere buddies, Scraps and Bun, that it was okay, they could uncover their ears now... awwwww. The street, while looking like a war zone, is also safe.

Steve's car, on the other hand..... well, it bore the brunt and the passing front wreaked havoc on his paint work and windscreen, which has cracked from top to bottom and has six bullet-like holes in it. The entire body (and of course the roof) is as pock-marked as an adolescent teen.

Big mop ups going on here this weekend. And just when I thought I already had enough work on.....

Watch my big "guard dog" leap to reassure me she'll protect me *a-HERM* and when you see the quick flash of vid of the leadlight window, that water noise you hear was inside!

Hailstorm from Lolly Lovers on Vimeo.

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