February 23rd, 2018
Last time, I mentioned that I knew the rain would come (it is the West Coast after all). What I didn’t bank on was two back-to-back tropical cyclones. An already unstable time, became even more unstable with the advent of Cyclone Gita.
The time between my last post and this one has been very eventful indeed. Workwise, I have put my hand up for just about every type of job under the sun. I’ve landed a few odd jobs here and there, including maintenance work, reception work, and even a bit of a spell as an upholsterer. It’s been a case of just putting the word out and saying “yes” to whatever comes. I’ve always found that that approach works and if you are open to anything, it sometimes even leads down a path you never knew you would enjoy.
In this spirit, I joined the local MenzShed, which is a community organisation aimed at providing a space for men (statistically having smaller social circles than women) to congregate socially. In doing so, MenzSheds contribute to community projects by building, renovating and restoring all manner of things for school groups, community groups, public spaces etc. MenzSheds are great for helping men feel more connected and to share skills. I’m looking forward to what I might learn and eventually, what I might pass on to others.
All this only a few short weeks after a the dying remnants of Tropical Cyclone Fehi collided with the coast and caused devastation to roads, individual properties and whole towns. Yet, on February 22nd, coastal communities seemed destined to face the full brunt of a second cyclone. Tropical Cyclone Gita was a weather system with an even greater force, which maintained an official classification as a cyclone further into southern waters than most. The very same unseasonal heat I mentioned in my last post was also heating the seas and maintaining tropical storms far south of the tropics. When the rain finally did come, it was time to batten down the hatches. Literally attaching battens to doors and securing movable objects as well as preparing supplies for a likely civil defence emergency.
For me, this meant packing down my house to lower its wind profile and protect it from potential damage. It meant the dogs and I were going to be living out of my van for a couple of very wet, very windy days. I’m normally pretty unconcerned by weather warnings, earthquake warnings and the like. This time it was meant to be a direct hit by a cyclone that had already crushed Tonga, then gone on to actually strengthen rather than weaken. It seemed wise to take precautions.
(CLICK graphics to see a computer simulation of Gita’s passage)
The way it turned out though, Gita pulled a big side-step when she saw the Southern Alps. She gathered up her sari and high-tailed it through the Cook Strait instead. Her rage was left and right bringing destruction to both the northern and southern shores. Kapiti and Tasman seemed to be worst affected before bringing yet another wave of disaster to coastal regions on the east coast. Kaikoura had to face another round of road closures while they are still recovering from last year’s earthquake damage and Christchurch added another natural disaster to its already depressing run of tragedy.
For us, formerly thought to be in the centre of a massively damaging weather system, it manifested in very light rainfall interspersed with periods of complete calm. No wind to speak of at all. All the while, I was camped in my van because my house was packed down into its “over-sized suitcase” mode.
Such are the ways of weather though. Back to normal after that: Job hunting and settling into our new community.