No power, no phone network and the chaos it creates

Was it only a couple of weeks ago that I spoke about whether I could survive an apocalypse and suddenly I’m in the middle of a significant event which even today is impacting on food supplies.

It started with a tropical cyclone off the east coast of Australia, which had been downgraded as it approached land but then it decided to dump a substantial amount of rain and high winds on a number of communities along the coast from North Queensland to North New South Wales thus causing places to flood, roads to be cut and then on top of that people with on the Telstra network lost the ability to use their phones – mobiles, land lines and even the emergency SOS – and then the broadband network went down and then we lost power.

If this was a movie, Hollywood seriously couldn’t of scripted it better.

The tiny community I live in was hugely affected by the loss of Telstra data line because all the shops use it for their eftpos machines.  Mr X and I pooled all our money together but we only managed to scrounge up $20 between us, which would do for a day or so but not much good if we needed fuel for our cars.

It was at this point that we knew that we would have to drive inland to a township with more shops and hopefully working eftpos machines. What we didn’t count on when we arrived was a majority of the community having power outages like us as well as no Telstra network either. I had assumed it was just a few hundred of us without phone and Internet not fifty or so thousand.

So it was crazy at the supermarket. They had power and a non-Telstra data line and people could buy things using their cards but what was the point really when there was nothing left to buy!

There was no bread, no milk, no canned products, no bottled water, and no toilet paper and although we were assured over the PA speaker that supplies were to be replenished as the trucks arrived, people still kept buying everything off the shelves in the supermarket.

Not a huge problem for us as we had a shop at home with stock but all we needed was the cash to get it but just as we headed to line up to get some the supermarket attendant announced that they were out of money – worst rotten luck.

For the next half and hour we bounced from shop to shop, trying to source an ATM which hadn’t been emptied of it’s resources when finally discovered one hidden in a petrol station. Mr X withdrew a few hundred in cash for us and filled up the 4WD whilst we were there. Maybe it was greedy of us to take so much but it took us about an hour to get to this township from home so we couldn’t afford to just pop back if we ran out of money again.

Now we had cash we headed to the nearest café for a couple of hot drinks. Since the power outage, which at that point was 24 or so hours, we hadn’t had anything warm to eat or drink and I was dreaming of only one thing – a cappuccino. Drinks in hand we decided to rest a minute in the restaurant and as we slowly sipped their contents we started to process in our heads how terribly we rely on technology these days. We rely on it for our money, for our communications and for our whole entire world really.

It was huge wake up call.

It took a couple of days to get our phone and data network back up and running and power was restored after 30 hours from when it first went off but I still feel edgy about the whole experience. It sure made us take a good hard look at what we really need to have on hand so that we more prepared for the future.

I’m currently working on a better storm survival kit because although it’s nice to have enough non perishable foods and water on hand it would better if we also had a back up generator at home as well as some spare cash in our safe.

water over road

water over road 02

broken road