When the winds hit on Wednesday (April 2nd), Meg and I were at the movies. Hey Hey it’s Esther Blueburger was only improved by the power going out, but that’s another story.
It was uncanny listening to the wind build and to feel the cinema being buffeted, let alone having the power go out in the shopping centre afterwards as we walked though following the film. But it was seriously scary when I had to wrestle to keep the car from being blown all over the road and traffic lights on a couple of extremely dangerous intersections were out.
I’m constantly amazed at the stupidity of people on the roads in such situations. The intersections I’m referring to – Darebin Road and Station Street, and Separation Street and Station Street, in Fairfield, are large (three lanes of traffic in each direction on Station Street and two/one respectively on the cross roads), and dangerous at the best of times, with accidents happening on a regular basis when the weather is good. So tell me why, when a gale is literally blowing and there are no lights to control the traffic, people speed up?
My parents were driving instructors until I was 23, and I can always hear them talking to me in a situation like we had on Wednesday: approach with caution, be courteous, give way to the right and use common sense. Although some callers to John Faine on ABC 774 spoke glowingly of the drivers they had seen, I personally didn’t see any common sense or courtesy.
Two intersections and two very near misses made me very glad to get home. They also made me collect a pair of disposable gloves and my mobile phone so that when the inevitable crunch of metal came, I would be ready to run and help. It happened about 3.15 in the afternoon.
No one was hurt, luckily, though one lady was shaky and holding her neck, but at least one of the cars was going through the intersection fast enough that a hit on the rear quarter panel on the passenger side spun it 180 deg and put it up on a footpath. One of the cooks from our local pizzeria had the fright of his life when he was unlocking the door to start work for the night and felt rather than saw the car coming at him.
I think he levitated himself out of the way.
Thursday morning saw Station Street shopkeepers and local residents assessing the damage and cleaning up. From what I can tell, three trees were lost from the shopping strip (and one street light doesn’t look too clever). One shop lost an awning and a window, I think, and lots were without power for many hours. The road itself was closed to traffic for most of the day, and the cleanup has not yet finished.
Walking around the back streets with the dogs showed branches tossed aside or whole trees uprooted and lying across footpaths and yards. Amazingly, the local park (Rubie Thompson reserve) had a couple of very small casualties, but no big trees seemed to threaten to fall. Credit goes to the Council who have been carefully pruning and culling the larger trees systematically over the last 12 to 18 months. Obviously the work has been paying off.