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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Umbrellageddon in SydneyStorm

A couple of days ago I had a thought when the storm began that I would write about how Sydney storms compare to the far worse heavy weather you routinely get up in Queensland but it soon became clear that the toll on communities, especially those around Newcastle, was pretty severe this time. And then three people died in Dungog when their houses started floating away in the flood. That event provided storm watchers with a bit of stimulating vision to accompany the myriad posts about other repercussions of the severe weather hitting the Sydney area and parts north.

But what came to symbolise for me the damage of this weather event in Sydney were all the pictures people posted of umbrellas that had given up the ghost. Audience editor at the Guardian, Dave Earley, quickly came up with the #umbrellageddon hashtag for people to use to aggregate all the photos that were coming in. I myself contributed a few entries to the hashtag after a number of trips out to the shops took me past a variety of woebegone umbrellas that had seen better days. The photos were often freighted with pathos, symbolising in a strange way the sadness of city living generally, perhaps even more than they represented how people felt about all the rain and wind.

The photo that accompanies this blogpost shows one of the collection that I made during my travels around the traps. You can see if you look closely that there's a book sitting on the street garbage bin; it is titled 'Wild Ways', and I thought that title was fitting in so many ways. There were a lot of sad umbrellas snapped as people walked around the streets of Sydney. The most impressive photos probably came from the Sydney CBD where street garbage bins were sometimes filled to overflowing with dead umbrellas. It was comic carnage.

It's true that the weather this time in Sydney hasn't equaled what I've been used to over the past (almost) six years living in southeast Queensland. (I have been in Sydney now about two months.) But what they had up near Newcastle was probably just as bad as that. I messaged my cousin who lives up Taree way about the rain but she said they had had blue skies throughout. Let's hope that over the next few days the bad weather falls away down here. I saw some blue sky this morning but it was accompanied - strangely - by lightning and thunder. 

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