Disclaimer: I've already told this story to the many people who've asked, but there are many more who are asking so it's easier to write it here than re-tell it a thousand more times. Thanks, everyone, for your concern and offers of assistance; everything is very much appreciated.

Sunday the 16th of November was a quiet, sleepy Sunday, and Syndia and I decided that we were going to go to Currumbin Sanctuary so that she could see some echidnas. It was a fascinating day and I'll probably blog about that separately at some point, but the point of this post is what happened that afternoon and in the following days.

We'd been inside for a while looking at a couple of exhibits, and when we came out again it was raining pretty heavily. After leaving the sanctuary we headed back to Brisbane, stopping in on the way at Yatala for some food. We reached The Gap at around 6pm, turned on to Payne Road and started noticing a distinct lack of streetlights and leaves - a lot of leaves - all over the road.

"Hmm," we thought. "We've apparently had a bit of a storm."

Continuing around the first corner in Payne Road, we were confronted by the astonishing scene of fallen branches, entire trees and power lines all over the road. It looked literally like a jungle - if one hadn't known that the road continued, one would have sworn that it just ended abruptly in thick, green foliage. We managed to proceed a bit further, and saw chaos.

There were fallen trees, crushed cars and snapped power lines everywhere. There were people walking around in their pyjamas in a daze. There were people parked on, under and within tree canopies that were lying on the road. There were people with chainsaws who'd obviously already cleared enough of the road that some traffic could get through. There were even pieces of people's houses, cars, fences and trampolines in the streets. It was utter chaos.

In the immortal words of A. A. Milne, "'Bother,' said Pooh."

We managed to creep along the road (bearing in mind that we were in Syndia's father's car, and really didn't want to scratch it) and arrived at Syndia's parents' house to check that everything was intact. Observing only minor damage (with the exception of Syndia's bird cage [thankfully empty] having been flung into the hedge), we aimed for home.

Arriving at our house, we discovered comparatively minor damage. There was a tree down on our roof, what looked like two entire trees in the swimming pool, one of the external floodlights had been shattered but things otherwise looked okay. Even my beautiful Fireblade was still upright in the carport, albeit covered in grass, leaves and mud.

Then we noticed another tree down over (and through) the wall behind the house, several more trees down into the pool, and several more trees on the neighbours' roof. Oh, crikey.

Oh, and the shed was in the garden, but not where it used to be in the garden. Hmm.

For anyone who hasn't seen photos and/or footage yet, now's probably the time to go and have a look:

YouTube - The Gap cyclone of November 16 2008 - Brisbane QLD Australia

YouTube - Brisbane Storm - The Gap gets pulverised!

YouTube - TV Newsroom Floods - Savage Storms, 16 November, 2008

2008.11.20.The Storm

To cut a long and moderately painful story short, we were without power from Sunday afternoon until Wednesday morning, had no drinkable water for the same period because the roof of The Gap Reservoir fell in (and thanks to the army guys from Enoggera for trucking out drinking water to everyone!), and spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday doing nothing but clearing debris, chainsawing fallen trees off roofs, walls, fences and streets, and generally cleaning up. Did I mention that I love my chainsaw? :)

On the bright side, however, our house is intact with only very minor damage. We had a tree on our roof. Hooray. One of the neighbours completely lost their roof - and pieces of yet someone else's roof ended up in our swimming pool. (We just didn't see them initially because they were covered by a couple of trees.)

The QFRS, SES, Energex, the Brisbane City Council, 2CER and assorted others from Enoggera Barracks, the Red Cross and all the other volunteers and emergency services employees deserve nothing but praise for their response to the disaster. The Gap, Ferny Hills and some surrounds were officially declared a Natural Disaster area and the response from everyone on the ground was nothing short of magnificent. Hats off to you all. Thanks heaps to Tony and Fadge for turning up and helping to clear some of the trees, too.

A special mention has to go to John, Dave, Matt and Steve from the Ripley Valley Rural Fire Brigade, who turned up on our doorstep on the Wednesday afternoon and asked if there was anything they could do to help.

I told them that I was fine with all the other trees, but that there were a couple of palm trees down and leaning on the neighbours' roof and that I wasn't game to start removing them on my own as I didn't want to cause any damage to their house.

Dave promptly sent Matt back to their truck for his chainsaw, then jumped up onto the roof and fired it up while Matt went around to make sure the neighbours (and their dogs) were out of the way.

Half the trees went to one side of the fence, from where the RFB blokes dragged them out to the pile on the footpath, and the other half went to our side where I did the same.

In around an hour the entire stand (poor word choice, perhaps?) of fallen trees was gone and the four of them just moved along, ice creams from Syndia in hand, to the next house in the street to ask if they needed anything. Legends, all of them.