Late on Monday afternoon, anyone outdoors in the Riverland probably saw the menacing black storm clouds, prowling across the region.
It took about 10 minutes to thrash its way through vineyards and orchards in a strip, perhaps a kilometre wide, from New Residence, then across the river towards Barmera, Winkie, Glossop, Monash, the fringes of Renmark and up the Murtho road to the border.
For those in its path, taking shelter was the only option.
By 6:30pm, phones were clanging, social media was clogging-up, images of damage were being flashed… and then it was dark.
At dawn, all was quiet. Even the wind had abated, seemingly for the first time in days. Carpets of Spring green leaves indicated the chosen few properties. Resilience is the word most often used in these circumstances and it’s had a good run today. The afflicted ones are mostly stoic, resolute, resigned to the fact that this is just one more trial… one they didn’t need.
Media units were dispatched from Adelaide by 9am. Most of the journos were respectful; didn’t intrude; captured images, footage and shot back to Adelaide for the evening news services and the Wednesday ‘Tiser.
PIRSA hit the road early. Family and Business Scouts (FaBS) were activated pronto. Departmental Directors are heading into the region to assess and assist with support programs. Loxton Research Centre is being made ready as a Response Centre. CCW crews were in vineyards. Early estimates of losses were being guessed. Key lessons learned from previous events were are being re-issued… keep up the water and nutrients and see if the vines don’t work some recovery magic.
BUT…when all’s said and done, the hail’s all melted, the dust begins to blow again, the chosen few and their families will feel the long nights, the anguish of all the unknowns, all the uncertainties. For many, pushed to their limits by the high cost of water and not yet having indicative prices for this year’s crop, much of the damage will be invisible. It will be measured in terms of sleepless nights, long periods of silence, not talking, perhaps depression.
It’s difficult to find words of comfort but it’s more important than ever to STOP and ask… RUOK.