Category Archives: Disaster

Today in our world

Yes, nature has two faces:
The pretty one and the ugly one, the disasters!
Love the first face and be prepared for the second one!” 
― Mehmet Murat ildan, Turkish Playwright, Novelist and Thinker
1985 – 

Today’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake is the deadliest to hit Mexico in more than 30 years and has brought down buildings in the capital, Mexico City.  At least 216 people are reported dead.

The earthquake also appeared to have triggered an eruption of Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano. In Atzitzihuacan on the slopes of the volcano, a church collapsed during mass, killing 15 people, Puebla governor Jose Antonio Gali said.

This was the second major quake to hit Mexico in two weeks and came on the anniversary of the 1985 quake that devastated Mexico City and in which an estimated 5,000 plus died.

A 5.3 earthquake in Fukushima, Japan is reported today and on it goes.

Meantime, here in Wellington, New Zealand I was at the movies watching (I can’t say enjoying) Dunkirk when we were hit with a 5.1 quake.  But with all the noise, bombings, torpedoes etc and the accompanying shakes, I didn’t even feel it.  How scary is that?  No damage was reported here and certainly no injuries or deaths.  Are we becoming complacent her in New Zealand?  Have we all got our evacuation packs close by?  I wonder.

And so once again, Mother Nature is shaking her skirts.  Earthquakes, hurricanes, severe thunderstorms all around our world.  And we continue to attack our world and its climate.

News of huge icebergs breaking off the ice shelf – Last week, the Larsen C Ice Shelf gave birth to a trillion tonne baby, an iceberg now dubbed A68. The latest observations suggest this big berg has moved 3km from its starting point, and that it’s already starting to crack up. More evidence of Global Warming.  We know that climate change aka Global Warming is doing widespread harm to animals and plants which are struggling to adapt to new conditions.

Oh and not let’s forget the two egomaniacs currently close to coming to blows.  This could completely destroy our planet.

This has been another of my rants.  When one reaches my vast age, and may you all be lucky enough to do so, one is allowed high horses and rants.

Enough already, as my Mother would have said.  Time to settle down with my book and supper and relax until tomorrow when something else will no doubt set me off.

And yes, Dunkirk is an incredible movie.  The historical events recounted in the film document how a makeshift fleet of British fishing boats, pleasure yachts, and cargo ships helped save 185,000 British soldiers and 130,000 French soldiers from death or capture by German invaders during the Fall of France in May and June 1940.   You may know that I was alive then although only a baby.   Of course, we all heard about Dunkirk and the courage of the captains of that armada of small ships but until today I really had no concept of what those rescued troops endured.  They cannot be lauded loudly and often enough.Clapping hands

 

 

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Stormy Weather

“When all is said and done, the weather and love
are the two elements about which one can never be sure.”

― Alice Hoffman,  American Novelist 1952 – 

 

Here in New Zealand, we are all bracing for what has been described as the storm of the century.  Ex-tropical Cyclone Cook is due to hit us just about now – 6.00 pm  Thursday 13 April 2017.  Rain is already causing problems and this is purported to be the worst storm since the Wahine Disaster in 1968.

According to New Zealand History  “The Union Steam Ship Company’s 8948-ton roll-on roll-off (RO-RO) passenger ferry Wahine, the largest ship of its kind in the world when completed two years earlier, left Lyttelton at 8.40 p.m. on the evening of 9 April. There were 734 passengers and crew on board.  Storm warnings had been issued, but rough seas were nothing new in Cook Strait. As it turned out, the Wahine was about to sail into one of the worst storms ever recorded in New Zealand. The ship reached Cook Strait as tropical cyclone Giselle swept south and collided with a southerly front. The combination of warm tropical air and cold air dragged up from Antarctica produced exceptionally violent turbulence. On 10 April, in a bad storm, the Lyttelton-Wellington ferry hit a reef.”  See the timeline to disaster here

Early the next day the Captain called for the ship to be abandoned and would be rescuers lined the shore in the atrocious weather as the Wahine succumbed to one of the worst storms recorded in New Zealand history and others raced to a further beach where many of those in the water were being washed to.

It seemed impossible that so many lives could be lost so close to shore. Fifty-one people lost their lives that day, another died several weeks later and a 53rd victim died in 1990 from injuries sustained in the wreck.  A number of people who reached shore alive did not receive medical attention quickly enough to prevent death from exposure. Others were drowned or killed when thrown against rocks.

The Cook Strait that connects the North and South Islands of New Zealand is 22 kilometres (14 mi) wide at its narrowest point and is considered one of the most dangerous and unpredictable waters in the world.

The Wahine Disaster is known about and discussed by many to this day.

So now, some 49 years later, we are faced with a similar storm.  At this time the sailings across Cook Strait are not canceled although I suggest that many people will change their travel plans.  The airport in Wellington has been closed on and off for most of the day as have several other airports.  Severe weather warnings are in place for many parts of the North Island and the top of the South Island.

 

Ohope2

Ohope Beach in front of the Architects A-frame.

 

Ohope 1

Several areas have already been evacuated including the Westend of Ohope where the Architect had a holiday home.  It was almost on the beach so I suggest there will be little of it left when the storm passes.

auckland harbour bridge.jpg

Schools have been closed today in anticipation of the storm.  There has been some discussion about closing Auckland’s Harbour Bridge.  Many businesses have closed early allowing their employees to get home before the worst of the weather hits.   But this means that roads are even more clogged than usual.

So is this going to be a Happy Easter for us?  I suggest it won’t be for many people.  So while I wish you all a very Happy Easter I’m taking

So while I wish you all a very Happy Easter I’m taking time to think of all those people who will have to return to devastation and flooding, some of whom haven’t yet recovered from last week’s storm, courtesy of ex-cyclone Debbie.

New Zealand Calling

After months of not writing a blog, I got up last Friday (04/04) fully intending that this would be the first day of many blogs.

I have had a lovely few months.  We had a holiday at the beginning of the year away from the stresses of an architect building a home for himself; then we spent 5 weeks travelling around the country with my sister from England and sharing with her some of my favourite places in this beautiful land;then more friends from overseas.  We had a few days in Australia visiting 4 artists in their studios and then a trip to Hobart in Tasmania to visit MONA – Museum of Old and New Art.  What an exciting time that was and what an amazing building.  Here’s the link. Please take a look you will hardly believe what has been achieved here.

In February we moved house although the new house isn’t ready to move into and following a series of minor (or maybe major) disasters it wont be ready for another two or three months so we are going to Europe for three months.  We are busy planning our trip with friends in Italy with whom we shall stay and then go to Spain with them.  How exciting!

Fire at storage unit

But the best laid plans – on Friday (04/04) we heard that there had been a major fire in a storage facility in Wellington and yes, all my worldly goods were stored in that facility.  Panic ensued and nothing else was thought of for the rest of the day.  However, the next day we went to the site and discussed the situation with the General Manager and the Fire Chief.  We were told there would be water and smoke damage but both thought it would be minimal.

So there followed a week of waiting to be told that we could go onto site; meeting with removal men to determine where the soggy goods would be stored; going to the new facility and sorting out what had to be removed immediately – boxes that disintegrated as they were lifted.  These mainly held linen and scarves – easily washed so no real problem – and shoes.  This was a different matter as they all had to be stuffed with newspaper and dried at the fire.

Of real concern though was the artwork, prints etc.  Fortunately my daughter has just bought a house with a self-contained apartment attached.  So we moved the pictures into that and set the dehumidifier.  It looks as if we have been really lucky.

Books, photos and papers were in plastic storage bins so again we have been very lucky.  The photos and letters were what I was most concerned about.  Everything else is just stuff.

And now we are told that the fire was arson.  The mind boggles at how anybody could do something like this.  All week we have heard terrible stories of people having lost everything.  CCTV coverage shows a man entering the facility with what looks like a drum of petrol.  Let’s hope they get this man quickly.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

ANZAC Day 2012

“Those heroes that shed their blood, and lost their lives …
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side,
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries …
Wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have
Become our sons as well.”

A memorial containing those words was unveiled by the Australian Veteran Affairs Minister on 25 April 1985.  The cove has been named ANZAC Cove by the Turks.

I wrote about ANZAC Day last year in quite some detail. From being a day of remembrance for those who fought and lost their lives at Gallipoli, it has now moved into a day of  remembrance for all those who have lost their lives in war and honours those who served and returned.

The story starts in 1914 when cabled reports from Britain – the Homeland – reached Australia and New Zealand forecasting that Europe was teetering on the edge of war.

When Britons returned to work after the August Bank Holiday, war was declared on Germany and involved the whole British Empire.  All the colonies were quick to jump in and offer their young men in service to the Empire.

Australia was in the middle of an election campaign.  The leader of the opposition offered Britain  “Our last man and our last shilling” in any war against Germany, and the Prime Minister responded with “Our duty is quite clear – gird up our loins and remember that we are Britons”.  How the young men loved that.  And how they rushed join up.  Many of them falsified their age to be in the army.  And I wonder how many would do that today.

Excitement was in the air and all around and the young men seemed to think this was a great adventure.  Many were concerned that they would miss out on the fun because this war was  ‘going to be over by Christmas”.  Alas, as we know this was not true and so many of those young men lost their lives on battlefields far from home.

On April 25th 1915 the ANZACS  landed at a cove in Gallipoli (now named Anzac Cove) and the Turks were ready and waiting for them.  On the first day in excess of 2,000 of these young Australian and New Zealand men were killed.  They were forced to retreat.  A further advance against the Turks was made in August but with the same miserable result.  On December 20th the force was evacuated and this evacuation was the only successful operation conducted at Gallipoli.

Anzac flag

Now these young men and their bravery are commemorated on April 25th every year in both New Zealand and Australia.  It is a Public Holiday with shops being closed until 1pm in New Zealand.  And each year thousands of people attend the dawn service held at 5.45 am all around our country and in Australia.  Many of those attending wear the medals won by relatives in many wars.  Anzac Day is not just for the  failed Gallipoli campaign but to remember all those who fought for their country.

What a terrible waste of so many young lives.  But isn’t all war wherever and whenever it is fought.

The word ANZAC has become part of the culture of New Zealanders and Australians. There are ANZAC biscuits and rugby and rugby league teams from the two countries play an ANZAC Day test.  And people talk about the ‘spirit of ANZAC”.  The Spirit of ANZAC was suggested by official war historian C.E.W. Bean to have ‘stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat.’ ”

Click here for scenes from the time and to hear The Pogues singing “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” the song that was played as the ANZACS sailed away on that October morning in 1914 on their way to ‘the war to end all wars’.

Anzac Poppy

ANZAC Poppy

Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’  – the fourth verse of which is so familiar to us today was quoted by Sir Winston Churchill,( 1874 – 1965), British statesman and politician, Prime Minister of Britain during the Second World War:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

Trumpeter sounding the Last Post

Photo Mike Bowers, Sydney Morning Herald

R.I.P.

Alec Campbell
Last Gallipoli survivor from Australia
(died May 2002 aged 103)

Alfred Douglas Dibley
Last Gallipoli survivor from New Zealand
(died 18 December 1997 aged 101)

Syncronicity?

Tsunami damage

Yesterday I watched  in horror, a TV special on the Japanese Tsunami one year on from March 11 2011.    I saw how the wall of water engulfed whole towns pushing all before it.  Houses, large buildings, cars and of course, people, were swept out of its way.  I had never before seen anything like it.  I was speechless at the damage inflicted by this water.

Imagine my surprise when after  being advised of a new follower of my blog, and clicking on the link I found that LimeIsBetter posted on the subject of the Tsunami, just a few days ago.  Click here for this moving account of the aftermath for the survivors.

I have nothing further to add to this post and leave you to read the post.

Walking on Alligators

So many things buzzing around my head that the scorpions have moved aside for the alligators.

American Alligator

An American Alligator in captivity at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio. via Wikipedia

  • Of course, the number one concern for those of us who live in this beautiful country is the fate of the Rena.  This is the container ship that is lodged on a reef outside the Tauranga Harbour.
Rena

17102011.Photo:Craig Simcox copyright Dominion Post/Fairfax News

As you can see the ship is in real danger of breaking up and the rest of the oil being discharged into the sea.  It is reported today that  “Last night nine men aboard the wreck were frantically working to remove thousands of tonnes of oil from the ship before it breaks apart.
However heavy swells of between 2.5 – 4m forced crews to stop pumping last night at 11.25pm, Svitzer spokesman Matthew Watson told Radio New Zealand.”

Some good news is that the beaches may be reopened to the public today but for how long if the rest of the oil discharges into the sea?   Some 1700 tonnes of oil were on board when the ship foundered and very little has been removed so far.

  • New Zealand is hosting the Rugby World Cup.  The NZ team (the All Blacks) beat Australia in the semi finalslast weekend and so NZ will now meet France in the finals.

I have no great interest in the game.  As I said when my husband died one good thing was that I NEVER have to watch another rugby match.  However, one can’t help being swept up in the euphoria of our team beating our arch rivals Australia.  Next Monday is Labour Day here and the final will be played on Sunday night in Auckland, so there will be a lot of celebrating if our team wins, or much drowning of sorrows if it loses.

  • On a personal note I have a problem and would like some advice from my knowledgeable and helpful blogging friends.  Maybe I should write to Dear Abby!

I have a couple of  male friends with whom I go out to dinner or the movies from time to time.  Recently I have been seeing one almost to the exclusion of the others and now have to tell one other in particular about the change and the budding relationship.

Question – should I send him a Dear John letter/email; should I phone him or should I arrange to meet him and tell him face to face?   My gut feeling is that anything other than face to face, while being easier is the cowards way out.

As I married at 19 this is a problem that hasn’t occurredin my life for more than half a century.   Help please!

  • I have been thinking a lot about technology recently.  How dependent we are on it these days.   We all have our laptops, i-Pads and phones.

When did you last go out without your cellphone?  I have been known to return home to pick mine up.  My father often used the comment “like a one-armed paper-hanger’ and that’s how I feel without my phone.

The first thing I do in the morning is turn on the PC and it stays on almost all day.  I no longer purchase the daily newspaper, I read the news on line.  I then sit down with my breakfast tea and toast to read about my blogging friends’ activities.  As I subscribe to many blogs, this can take a long time.

The PC also keeps me in touch with other friends around the world.  And particularly my sisters.  However, one day last week I absolutely hated it and wordpress.  I typed my blog and then lost it in the blogosphere.  So I retyped it and it happened again.  Where do all the lost posts and blogs go?  Is there a returned mail office in the blogosphere as there used to be for posted mail?

My late husband was a gadget freak.  How he would have been in his element at all the things available now.  When he died in 1998 the internet was pretty much in its infancy and cell phones were not nearly as sophisticated as they are now.

  • I am despairing over the use of texts and the way in which they are affecting the use of the English language.

I received a text from a friend – my age and education – that had no punctuation at all and ended with ‘thankx”.  What are we teaching our young (and old) if this is acceptable to us?  I should say here that I dislike texts and hated the word “texted” with a vengeance.  Text is a noun not a verb.

  • I am compiling quite a long list of pet hates at the moment – a sign of the advancing years perhaps?
  • Another vexing matter is that the younger generation don’t seem able to add simple numbers and have to resort to the calculator.

I recently had a light lunch with a couple of friends.  I ‘owed’ one for recommending me as a life coach to a woman and so I was taking her. When we were leaving we went to the desk to pay.  I told the girl that I would pay 2/3rds and my other friend would pay 1/3rd of the bill.  After we were told that the bill came to $45 and I proffered $30 to the clerk, imagine my surprise to be asked how I worked that out.  She then took out a calculator to check.

And this was not an isolated instance.  I know that much headway is made in teaching today with the use of computers, i-pads etc, but surely young people should be taught to count as we were.

Oops perhaps that is to be added to another list of things to rant about.

  • On a lighter note we learn that an unknown actress is suing Amazon for revealing her age on a website.  Apparently she is  “alleging fraud, breach of contract and violation of her private life, as well as her consumer rights.” Read more about this frivolous action here.

And now it’s time to walk Lotte before the rain that is forecast sets in.

I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.
Lewis Carrol from Alice in Wonderland.

Alice in Wonderland