A Windy Night in June

By Bek Hutchin

I live in Kalorama, amongst Mountain Ash, the world’s tallest flowering plant. On the 9th June we got some crazy weather… the wind gusts started picking up during the day, around 2.30pm we had a tree fall down from the neighbours property, just clipping the side of my house. I thought well if that’s the worst that’s great.

But the wind kept blowing and by 8pm we were getting some really strong wind gusts. My son (13 years old) and I decided to sit under the house/carport and listen to the wind. We watched trees in the distance being blown horizontally and the occasional boom of a tree falling. 

At 9.30pm it really kicked off, the power went out and the wind was relentless. A tree we were previously watching bend at crazy angles…was no longer there. Instead just a large gap in the sky. Every wind gust by that stage took something down…sometimes a far off ‘crack’ and then a ‘boom’, and then next one would be in the neighbours property.

There was a very loud bang and my son and I just grabbed each other, boy that was close!

This went on all night, constant wind gusts and constant sound of trees falling. We ran upstairs a few times to check the last bang wasn’t a tree on our house.  At around 11pm it occurred to me that we shouldn’t be here, it’s really not safe but at the same time I knew it was too late to leave, it would be more dangerous on the road. I wasn’t sure we would make it through the night.

I slept (very little) downstairs on the floor of my son’s room, we figured it was safer than upstairs. Woke at sunrise to find his floor soaking wet, I thought this can’t be good.

We went out to access the damage, trees down everywhere! There was a mass of trees/branches etc between my house and my water tanks, I could see one tank was damaged at this stage (flooded some of the downstairs area). Both neighbours’ properties were unrecognisable, just trees everywhere.

We made hot drinks with the gas stove and tried to wake up a little. Next thing we knew a neighbour walked up our driveway, chainsaw in hand, just checking all the nearby properties that they could get out, what a champion.  I was still processing the night and the damage, he was already out helping people, meanwhile there were still a lot of strong wind gusts.

We jumped in the car to warm up and charge our phones, then decided to go for a little drive. We drove up our road, amazed to see the trees had already been cut to clear a path. Drove past our neighbors house, both my son and I heard a CRACK, but we both thought we were hearing things. Our neighbor ran out and said ‘Did you see that! That tree just came down behind your car, just missed you!’ We were so lucky!

We drove up Fall Road to find large groups of people walking down the middle of the road, all looking rather tired and shocked. Next thing we see a group of girls carrying chickens. They had gone to the kindy to rescue them, just as they were leaving a tree came down on the kindy.

We were able to drive to a section called Five Ways, ironically 4 of the 5 roads were blocked by trees, no way out, no way off the mountain and very little to no phone reception. We shared stories with a few people we saw, hearing of houses flatten by trees, cut in half and  people walking kilometres to get to safety…but thankfully no deaths.

I was worried we wouldn’t be able to get back home after the tree fell behind us, but it got caught up in another tree and we were just able to drive under it! We went home and cooked some breaky on the gas stove… winds just kept blowing.

Our intention was to get out that day, off the mountain and stay elsewhere, but all the roads were blocked. So we lit the fire, dragged the couch over and put on the battery powered radio, cooked dinner on the gas and went to bed early, the wind had finally eased.

We managed to get out the next day and were shocked, the carnage was unreal, roads had a small gap cut between the massive trees, just enough room to get through, huge gaps in the sky.

After a few days we worked out that two of my water tanks were destroyed, the third one emptied and the connection to the house buried under trees. 

With no power and no water we stayed in a hotel for a few days, then a friend’s holiday house at the beach for a week, then a cottage on a farm for another week and finally came home 18 days after we left!

Finally the power came back on and I spent my first night at home in my own bed.. after 2 ½ weeks of moving around, we still don’t have water and hoping that will be fixed this week.

I think of ourselves as very lucky, it was a dangerous night but we made it though and we have our house.

mental health, natural disaster, safety, storms
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