The Widder Curry: ‘I Have Family in Australia Where They’re Having a Once-in-500 Year Storm’

by on March 2, 2022 · 2 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach, World News

A Grandmother’s Concern

By Judi Curry

Too often we hear about something third or fourth hand, and although we feel sorry for the involved people, we let it pass until the next crisis hits.  The world today is tumultuous – with the Ukraine news bordering on WWIII, it is difficult not to pick up the paper, or turn on the television without seeing complete devastation caused by one individual that is praised by a former president of the United States.

Many of us know individuals that come from Ukraine that are losing their very foundation of life.  Many of us see the pictures of children crying as they say goodbye to their father who is not allowed to leave because he needs to stay and fight a battle against a dictator. Many of us have seen the pictures of the bodies of those killed by this invasion.  I have had students from Ukraine stay in my home as they work on their English skills to enhance their employment in their own country upon their return.  My heart bleeds for them and the millions of others that are in the same predicament.

But today I am faced with a problem even closer to home.

Many of you may know that I have a granddaughter and two great-grandchildren that are in Australia.  The reasons they are there now are not important, because a crisis has affected them.  My granddaughter, Kyla Ebbert, is a San Diego/ Coronado girl.  She was born here; went to school here; attended college here, etc.  She is not in Australia by choice, but, at this time, is out of necessity.

Here is a message she posted on Face Book two days ago:

Mother Nature is fierce.

We are fine for now, but thousands of people in our town are not.

The kids’ schools have been turned into evacuation centers and are already at capacity.

Today was the first break in the rain in nearly 2 weeks and was the first time we could really survey the damage.

What’s crazy is that this storm is so big that its been pounding over 100 miles worth of land at once. That’s further than San Diego to LA. NONSTOP.

To give credit where it’s due.. my kids father and several friends have spent the past 2 days out in their boats rescuing people, pets and wildlife off of roofs and bridges and out of dangerous floodwaters. They are some of literally hundreds putting their fishing boats, kayaks and jet skis to good and selfless use these past couple days. Yesterday Ben was able to save 8 people, a dog and her puppies, kangaroos and (somehow) a cow.

We’ve seen so many stranded pets on their roofs either abandoned or separated from their owners.

The center of town is just a muddy River; buildings and storefronts are sandbagged and boarded up. The supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations are all closed. Everything is closed. Buildings that were halfway underwater yesterday are now fully submerged.

Two large buildings set up as evacuation centers are now being closed). So many people are displaced.

They are calling this a “One-in-500-Year Storm”.

Glass windows are shattered from the pressure of the water. Gas and oil, venomous snakes, fallen trees, broken branches, cars that have been swept away, bull sharks (which love brackish river water), abandoned boats and dead wildlife are all throughout the floodwater.

Power is down, and a lot of people’s last points of contact are Facebook posts made yesterday with their addresses and body counts when the flash flooding started. Those lucky enough to still have battery life on their phones can’t get through to the inundated emergency services lines.

But people are coming together whether it’s to help evacuate, help with donations, help with accommodation and the like. We have a few friends of Riley’s (Judi: my great-granddaughter, age 13)  staying with us whose homes have flooded and whose parents just need a safe place for their kids to be while they handle whatever they can.

We’ve just been told that more rain is coming, and that tomorrow’s king tide coupled with elevated river levels will be much worse for the foreseeable future.

My kids and I live in on the East Coast in (upper) East Ballina, with the beach being directly in front of us and the river all around us. We’re fortunate that the rain has somewhere to go. But eventually, those fill up too. Their dad’s street was not as lucky and is completely flooded.

With everything happening in this town, in this state, and in the world.. as cheesy as it sounds, I am just so thankful to have a roof over our heads, no water at our doorstep, a stocked fridge and freezer (thanks mom), spare beds to open up to whoever needs them, and the peace of mind in knowing that my kids are safe and with me.”

Never did I ever anticipate that my family would be in this situation. Never did I think that Australia would be in this situation.  The people that do not believe in climate change say these things will never happen.  The people that can do something about this situation are sitting on their hands whistling mindless tunes.  But Kyla wrote more today.  Here is what I woke up to reading:

Thank you guys all for your comments and prayers.

We live on almost the highest ground in town and although there’s a lot of water in the streets, i think we’re ok tonight. Tomorrow high tide has me most concerned. A lot of my neighbors around us are leaving with trailers, which freaked me out to see.

We’ve packed. I have passports, flashlights, batteries, phone chargers, plenty of water, changes of clothes for all of us for 3 days, the kids stuffed animals, a legal copy of my parenting order, a first aid kit, Noah’s inhaler, toiletries for Riley, ropes, cables, bunjees, closed toe shoes for the kids, a tool kit, blankets and a Bowie knife.

Anyone who can give me advice, Other than food, what do I NEED to bring? High tide tonight dealt another blow to lower lying areas but we were ok. It’s 8:20pm here with king tide expected around 9pm and again tomorrow around 8:30am with literally nowhere for this water to go.

Just need to know if I’m missing anything that needs to be in our go-bag. Riley packed her own.. it had perfume, scrunches, mascara, a fluffy onesie and a shower speaker. I obviously repacked it. Someone remind me when all of this is over to enroll her in a survivalist retreat or something.

Thank you guys “

And then she attached the alerts from the government.

To say that this is a scary situation would not give the full credence of Climate change in the world today.

Just two days ago there was a prediction that the coastal waters of both the Western and Eastern parts of the United States will rise sufficiently in the next few years to cause a catastrophic change in coastal life – be it animal or human. Being 9000 miles away from a loved one that is experiencing this random rage of Mother Nature is such a feeling of helplessness.

Why can’t the powers that make decisions see what is happening and stop further erosion of our systems?  Are the monies that individual corporations are gathering enough to wipe out any concerns for the future?  If Putin doesn’t wipe us out with his attack, will the people that do not believe in climate change do it for him?

It’s time to wake up and be active.  I don’t know what the end result will be for my family in Australia; I am hopeful that they will get to higher ground before they suffer any catastrophic loss.  But remember the old adage – “don’t fool with mother nature” – is just too real in this instance.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

judith curry March 2, 2022 at 11:47 am

A further update on the situation: It is almost impossible to reach Kyla or the kids. They all have cell phones, and not with the same providers, but the phone lines are down. Every now and then we can get through but the connection only lasts seconds. My daughter said that she was disconnected over 10 times in trying to find out how the family is doing. Here is an update as of 11:40am Wednesday. (It is already Thursday in Australia and the brunt of the storm is supposed to hit sometime today and rain steadily for the next week. There are large dead animals – horses, cows, etc., floating down the streets; the storm drains are all plugged up and individuals are trying to unplug them themselves. There is only one market open and they can only take cash because all of the networks are down – no way to run a credit card through because nothing is working. Apparently Kyla is on the safest street in her town, because cars are parked all over the street; people are “camped” out on the sidewalk. Kyla’s apartment has two floors and she and the kids are staying upstairs most of the time. Noah, my 11 year old great-grandson complimented his mother by saying she was calm and holding things together, while, he himself, was “terrified.” I know that Kyla is also, and she may fall apart when this is over, but by her reaction the kids feel safer. My daughter – Kyla’s mother – says that she will continue to try to contact them often, and I will update this information as I hear more. And…by the way….thanks for your positive thoughts and prayers.


sealintheselkirks March 2, 2022 at 6:17 pm

Wondered if your younger family members were under this monster. Or in Queensland’s flooding. I’ve been hearing from Kevin in New Zealand about some refugees making it across (a harrowing sea journey at this point) but Covid infections are spiking after two years of very stable numbers there (the bonus of having a Socialist Medical Public Health system) so NZ is now having some serious worries with incoming Oz folks on top of the influx.

Judi, people need to absolutely stop using Wbush’s right wing neoliberal talking head Frank Luntz’s creation of the term climate ‘change’ as it is completely inappropriate at this point. The bright GOP idea was to lessen the worry of the public, deflect reality for the express reason of continuing the profits of his buddies the fossil fuel oligarchs.

What is happening there at the moment can only be described as climate ‘chaos/destabilization/catastrophe/calamity/collapse’ or whatever term that has a far greater urgent impact on the consciousness on the people Wbush was so determined to distract reality from. A 500 year ‘event’ that come every year? Remember the fires last summer in Oz; a billion or two dead animals. We are so distracted as a species…

And the official temperature in my county for last summer was raised to 120’F recently. In the mountains 40 air miles south of Canada but then Lytton BC burned to the ground in 122’F and it was right up above me so I guess this isn’t so surprising. Your g& g-g-kids staying alive and healthy to have the chance to move to the US soon is a wish and I hope to hear you announce sometime about that in the next few months.

It’s raining here, in the 40s & nearing 50F in the afternoon, about 30’F higher than normal. Somehow I doubt the ‘last frost in June’ is going to happen this year. Again. We had exactly ONE 2 foot snowfall this winter and that was two months ago. Nothing but tiny dustings or an inch or two since. Not measurable. This is really getting…disturbing. Is that a good word? Global Warming is here and accelerating faster than any thought possible. And this is still the summer Down Under…



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