Yesterday I posted a short video of my house being struck by lightning. I found it amusing and laughed about it. The rain stopped, the storm went on its way and I thought only a little about the fact that it was moving along the road I was due to travel on this afternoon.
The nearest good airstrip with planes flying to Perth is at a big mine site just over 100 Km away, along a fairly rough bush track. I was booked to fly out this afternoon at 5pm. Knowing I had a hard drive ahead of me, I went to bed early-ish. Around 11pm. The plan was to leave around noon and allow about four hours for the trip. Just in case.
About half past midnight I was jolted into full and complete wakefulness by a huge crash of thunder. Rain was falling. A full cloudburst. Lightning was splitting the desert darkness in an almost continual show. I reached under my pillow and confirmed that my torch was to hand. The sudden quiet as the air conditioners died confirmed that the power station had been hit and the power was off.
I opened the curtains and watched the display. After counting over thirty flashes in one minute I ran out of count. The rain became heavier and the time between lightning and thunder became shorter. I went back to bed but couldn’t sleep because of the combined noise of thunder and rain.
As the rain continued I began worrying about the track I had to drive along. Once I travelled that road and there was a ten kilometre lake along it. Luckily it was only a little more than axle deep but at 3am (Is THAT the Time? I MUST get some sleep!) one worries about finding the road beneath the water. Eventually the rain eased after a torrential 100-200 mm and the thunder moved away.
I woke late, at around 7.30. I knew the mail plane was due just after 8am so I skipped breakfast and settled for a quick coffee. I had drunk about half of it when the plane flew overhead. Peter, one of the teachers was first on the road and led the way. I was in second place and the nurse, with lab samples to send off for testing was in third place. We passed through several quite large puddles and then reached the “causeway”.
A small explanation. There is a river which runs between the Community and the road out to civilisation and the road to the airstrip. There are three large pipes beneath the road to carry away the water.
We reached where we knew the causeway lay but it was invisible beneath a couple of feet of rapidly flowing muddy water. Peter stopped to drop into 4wheel drive, I did the same. The nurse had to get out to turn her hubs to get into 4 wheel drive. I failed to realise that she hadn’t been able to turn those hubs. I followed where Peter had driven, partly through the broken water on the downstream side because I felt the road, while rough, may have been a little more solid than on the upstream side. I got through and looked in my rear view mirror and saw the nurse’s car at a 45 degree angle. She had fallen off the road on the upstream side.
Turning around, I went back and she was able to throw her postal packages across into my car and then she was able to step from her passenger’s side door onto my running board and then into the car. Understandably, she was a little shaken. Had her car tipped just a little more it would have gone right over on the driver’s side and she could easily have drowned!
We did the mail plane thing and then went back to look at the damage.
About this time I began to consider my own trip in the afternoon. This was deeper water than I had ever seen on the causeway and that began to seem a bad omen for what may lie out on the road. Especially since I would be travelling alone. I decided that the Red-Back beer I was looking forward to was not all that important. So I phoned the relevant person and cancelled my flight! When the boss returns on Monday we can sort out how I get out of the desert. He is driving back in. I may fly out on Tuesday’s mail plane. Providing he gets here.
After several hours and the use of a front end loader we got the Toyota out of its predicament. Then we headed off to the School Principal’s home which had caught fire after being struck by lightning. But that is another story.
Unusually, the skies were clear this afternoon. We have had both afternoon and night storms for the past three days. Which bodes well for the state of the roads after the weekend. A couple of dry days and the roads will be quite usable. The boss will have it easy.
Except, that at sunset tonight, I noticed a gathering of clouds all around the horizon with some rising thunderheads and falling showers of rain.
It is now an hour after sunset and I can hear the distant growls of thunder moving closer. The TV reception has died and I think I hear the rain beginning to ping on my roof.