Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Week 29 Cyclone Clean Up Week

#1 I am ok again.

#2 Funnest week ever!!

Ok wow I don't even know where to start. I guess with the so called cyclone. As you know we got evacuated to T-ville and had fun there cleaning and preparing. The storm ended up going down south more so t-ville did not get much at all. My mom wanted me to describe it. Imagine going out and flying a kite. That is how bad it was!! haha it totally missed us but hit Ayr and Bowen pretty good.

When the road was cleared from rubbish and trees we were able to drive down but had to watch out for water flooding the road from all the rain. All was well though and we were able to make it to Ayr without a problem.

Ayr got hit but did not take the bulk of the storm. They said they only got 100kph winds and 20 mills of rain. So it was not terrible at all. Everyone still was prepared for the worst. I have never seen a whole town just disappear into houses and be all blocked up. It was cool. But anyway the storm did some damage. Lots of trees had fallen over and there were leaves and stuff everywhere in yards. Only little stuff though (not like Bowen)

When we got to Ayr President Mayers sent us on a whole heap of mini missions. First, we had to go check up on the chapel to see if the roof was there and if it was all right. So we went around and picked up all the trees and things and made a pile. While living in the chapel for four months I found a way up onto the roof so I was really able to give it a good look over and it was fine too.

From there we were sent to all the active members to make sure they were alright and safe. Everyone was good and just cleaning up the little they had in their yard. Pretty much all the members got away without too much damage. Our branch President took his family far away so they would be safe and he sorta lives in a forest like we do. President Mayers sent us there to see if his house was ok and to check it like we checked the chapel. He was all good but had heaps of trees and leaves and branches all over. It was a mess. Side note to Jake my little bro. You would have hated it. It was like a Cahoon spring clean but Dad did not have the chainsaw, mother nature did and she went nuts. haha

The rest of the day we went around to all of the names on our branch list. Inactive, part members, everyone. Since it really was not that bad in Ayr everyone was fine. All the people were ok and just needed help cleaning up little things in their yard. I was having a great time and my new gloves came in so handy. Shout out to my mom for being the best and sending them right in time!! As the day came to a close we thought what was left of the storm was over. Oh so while we were working it was blowing around 20-25 kph. So it was a lot more windy than kite flying weather. On that note there was a member by the beach and when we finished helping we walked over to the beach and it was really blowing. I took some awesome pictures trying to walk in it and me standing sideways.

The storm, from what we could see on the radar from members was still going strong in Bowen but coming to an end. It made a quick up draft or loop or something that day and hit us at the end of the day. Literally right as we finished the storm started.

So now I can really give some detail of what being in a cyclone is like. The part that hit us was maybe a f1 or less but still crazy!! I found that sweet camera and it has a great mic on it so in the videos you can really hear what the wind sounded like. As we sat in our flat looking out it was raining harder than I have ever seen. Buckets of water coming out of the sky. The rain also did not fall straight down but sideways from all the wind. As it hit the ground or a roof it would blow away in the wind. My dad would have had a hay day trying to go out and windsurf. If you have even been with us at a beach while we windsurf it feels like that but 10 times more wind and super constant. It was pretty cool but only lasted an hour. We got 52 millimeters of rain just like that. So when we hopped in our car to see all the damage and flooding we could not believe it. Our chapel courtyard was under water and totally flooded. So was the road that runs outside of our flat.

I could not believe how much water was just around on the ground. It was like a really big flash flood in southern Utah but in a small city. So there were homes that got flooded and all the parks and fields were just full of water. I took some videos as we drove around to see it all. It was so crazy to be in just such a little part of the storm. It did knock out power in Home Hill but Ayr was fine and we suffered no damage except from flooding.

You may remember the big bridge I have talked about that goes from Ayr to Home Hill. Well the river is usually empty or has a creek of water flowing down the side. Well that day all the water from the cyclone started to fill the river up. The river itself has a bank or goes down 10 meters or 32 feet. So it is a deep river that is usually not flowing. Well as we drove across it the river was about 3 meters 9 feet from going over this bridge. Look up pictures of it empty and then full. It is quite the sight. It is the Burdekin Bridge in Ayr. Imagine a 32 foot wave of water coming down and filling this river over night. There were huge trees that were just floating along like nothing had happened. It was amazing that that much water could just come really out of nowhere. Bowen and down south got 800 to 1000 millimeters of water. That is 40 inches of rain in just one storm. So you can imagine how much water was coming down this river!!!!

There is a spot under the bridge that you can drive to and get out and be right on the bank of the river. So we went to see how close it was to flooding over and it still had a ways to go before that would happen. As we were looking I started to slip and slide down into the river. There was mud from the rain and we were on a slope. So with my camera high above my head I fell into the Burdekin and took a little bath. No don't worry about me being swept away. Under the bridge there is lots of vegetation and a yeti so I just stood up and crawled back up the back. In one of the pictures that is why I have mud all over my butt.

The next day we went around again to see if there was stuff to help with and was busy the day going around doing the same things we did the day we got to Ayr. The real fun began when we tried to make our trek down to Bowen where we taught and baptized Sipa.

President Mayers called and told us to go to the store to grab those big size D batteries that nobody uses. Well every store was all sold out but we managed to find 2 that we could bring down. I also thought we should grab some water to bring down to the members since it gets shut off in the storm. So after that fun little adventure to find some we started to drive down to Bowen. There was a police roadblock and they were not letting anybody through. Not even people with big diesel generators and heaps of fuel. So when we pulled up President Mayers told us to say "We are official representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. We want to go check on the members in the area down there and bring them water and batteries." We also told him we had our own food and water and would be back to Ayr that afternoon. He without a thought said ok go through. hahaha What a crazy cool miracle!!!

As we drove down to Bowen we began to see how bad a cyclone could be. Ayr was nothing. The closer and closer we got the realization kicked in on how nasty these monsters are. If a tree (huge tree) was not tipped over the bark was stripped clean off the tree and left it naked. The roads you could tell had over a few meters of water on them and some parts still had water. The rivers were still flooded and going strong. It was so cool to see but so sad at the same time.

As you drive into Bowen from Ayr there is a little tiny one-man airport for a skydiving company. As we pulled into Bowen and passed this little airport I thought I was going to die. There were so many Black Hawk Helicopters flying all around and Chinooks taking off and landing. We stopped and took some cool videos and photos and I was in heaven!!! The whole day they just flew over along with lots of non-military ones like my favorite AS350 B3 and Robinsons 22 and 44. I’m such a nerd. haha love them. So as I worked I was so happy not just because I was helping but also because I was seeing so many helis and living a dream. I will get back to the coolest part about the helis after I talk about Bowen.

So as we pulled into town I want you to imagine that every tree in Hidden Oaks had fallen over and if we had power lines imagine them all tangled up. It was a bad sight. Some houses were missing roofs, fences were gone, the streets were full of mud and sand from the floods. It was bad. We made it to the Branch president's house and he has huge palm trees tipped over and a river going through his front yard. It was a mess. Again Jake, you would have hated it. There were so many trees to drag over into a big pile. As you looked down the road everyone just pulled all the trees and bushes and rubbish into big piles and the city council comes around with a big wood chipper and shreds it all.

So once we knew that all the members were ok we began to just move tree after tree and palm leaf or banana tree and banana tree to the front yard into a big pile. I took lots of pictures of all the damage and carnage from the storm. Mother nature hit them hard. As we drove we saw a house that was boarded up that said F off Debbie. haha The whole town was just destroyed. It looked like they had every electrician in Bowen trying to get the power lines fixed for power. This whole town went from being fully functional to destroyed and non functional in a day.

The funnest part about the whole thing was just driving to each member and seeing all the damage it caused. I felt so bad that I really could not do much to help. We asked around in Ayr if anyone had a chainsaw we could borrow but no one did. All we could do was pick up the small trees and stuff since we could not cut anything. It still was fun to give a helping hand.

At the end of the day we drove back to Ayr and had a wonderful sleep. The next morning Sam called us. He calls us every day now. But this time he asked if we could help him real quick. We were about to leave down to Bowen again but stopped by to see what we could do. He collects beer cans from all of his friends and stores them up so he can recycle them and get money. So he had about 20 big bags of these beer cans sitting in front of his unit. The recycle place can’t accept them if there is trash in the bags with the cans. So he had us take out these nasty old cans with beer still in some of them and put them into clean bags. It was so nasty. There was so much rubbish in them like rotten break, weeds, old food, basically trash. Our job was to stick our hand in it and pull out the beer cans. It was terrible but we did it. We had a quick lesson with him to since we have not done any mission work for a week now. We still try to contact people as we work but it is hard. So we went from having the biggest numbers in our area to a whole bunch of zeros!! haha We were still doing work, just not mission work. It was a bad week in that sense but a good one since we served.

So we went back to Bowen that day and they had their water turned on but still no electricity. We continued to go around moving all the trees and rubbish into big piles. Way better then picking up beer cans in rotten food. The day was a good one full of lots of work. There were still helicopters everywhere so I was just so happy to be doing all the work. At the end of day two in Bowen the town was coming back to life. I have never seen so many people help each other and be nice to everyone. Slowly the town came back. There were also heaps of military guys going around helping too. So we saw heaps of the cool military cars too. It is weird to just think that the world does not ever stop. People go back to work and clean up and then it goes back to normal. So by the end of the day we were not needed. Power was going to get turned on that night so things were just chipper.

As we were driving through town to go home I saw an AS350 B3 Helicopter sitting right off the side of the road in a field. It was closer than all the others since it was on the ground. I got out to take a picture of it. There was a fence that went around this little field. So I could get close but not too close. After taking some really cool pictures the pilot came out from around the corner and came up to me and said, “You like it?” I said, “Boy do I ever. I know it is a AS350 B3. It is my favorite.” She was surprised that I knew the model and asked one of the coolest questions ever!!! " DO YOU WANT TO GO LOOK INSIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" haha YESSS!!!!!! So I hopped the fence and she let me sit right in the pilot's seat!! She came around into the copilot's seat and started telling me about it. I surprised her again and started telling her about it. I said this is my favorite one. I know everything about it. Man it was so cool. She was so nice and loved helis just as much as me and asked the next greatest question of all time. " Do you wanna start it up??????!!!!!" haha No way!!!!!!!! This is a dream!!!! So we started pushing all the buttons and getting ready. She did most of it but I was right there in the pilot's seat!!! We got just to the point before the engine turns over and the jet goes shhhhhhhh ...whosh So it did not turn on on but the electronics were all on and ready to go and we got to play around and see them work. I thought last week seeing a Huey takeoff was cool but this week I got to sit in my favorite one and play around it in!!!! haha So blessed for putting in hard work right. I take it that the Lord is showing me I should be a pilot when I get home. Right? haha

I also did not waste the opportunity to share the gospel. While sitting in a AS350 B3 I contacted this lady from Canada living in Australia for the summer. She has a really good Mormon friend back home in Canada and the friend’s son is serving out somewhere. So it was cool to share more with her and give her a better understanding. We had a great conversation about the gospel and it was right in a helicopter!! What a dream come true!!! Man, how cool is that!!!!! What a great day helping serve and also seeing helis while contacting in one.

The rest of our week was really boring. We finished cleaning and got back to Ayr. I turned 19 on Sunday, one day before my twin sister did so now I am the older twin. haha. We had church since we don't get conference live and I got to bear my testimony on my birthday and also teach gospel principles and priesthood. How great right? haha I actually enjoyed it and had a good time.

I also pulled off one of the best April fools jokes of all time. I called our Zone Leaders and told them while we were doing service a lady came up to us and said, “You are Mormons right. I want to learn more.” We made up that she was from Rockhampton (where the ZL are) and she was in Bowen helping family. We made it sound like she was really good and a solid investigator. When they asked for her name we spelled it for them. A...P...R...I... and then they started to say oh her name better not be April. haha We said it was truly her name and then could not hold in the laughter when we said her last name was Fools. hahahahahaha it was so funny!! We were all dying of laughter. Cause come on, how good was that?!! It was a classic. The zone leaders got me back though the next day on my birthday. They said they had a gift for me. I fell right into their hands. They said they wanted me to give the zone training this Tuesday. haha So we are even now but I am excited to give it. It is on goal setting and I have found some great stuff to share and motivate everyone. It is gonna be great!!

Wow, what a crazy week this was!! Thanks for all the prays for my safety. I think you all prayed too hard since the storm missed us. Thanks anyway for the love and prayers. They really do work and help. I am ready to get back into real missionary work this last week of the transfer. I am dying to know if I will be transferred or not. Because honestly I love this area but I am so sick of it. I am ready to go to a new area and leave this small little place. Eight months in one area is pretty good but I think I am done!! So hopefully next week I will have good news but I might not email since I will be on a plane going to my new area. Hopefully. haha Love you all, be safe.

Elder Cahoon

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