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We all know that awkward moment when a polite and friendly conversation comes to a sudden halt. We realise that we actually know nothing about the person we are talking about and have exhausted all possible conversation topics. You know how their job is going, how their significant other is feeling and which school their kids are going to. You have even spent a chunk of time discussing someone both of your vaguely know and probably remarked on the completely unremarkable interior of the room you are in. For some reason, though, politeness stops you from simply walking away. You both know you have to say something, so inevitably one of you blurts at the tried and true line, “funny weather we’ve been having.”

Talking about the weather is always a failsafe for an awkward moment in conversation. It reveals nothing about yourself and requires no detailed knowledge of the person you are speaking to. Really, the weather is the ultimate conversation topic for the person who really does not want to be in a conversation.

It would appear that, lately, the weather has grown tired of being a last resort conversation topic. Any passing glance at a news source anywhere in regional Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania or Western Australia will tell you that. Floods have ravaged Queensland and Victoria and many people have spoken about little else for quite a while. Now, in Western Australia, a dramatic dust storm has swept through the wheatbelt, leaving millions of dollars worth of damage in its wake. Dramatic photos of the storm have been published on various news websites. Cycling through the pictures, it is easy to think you are looking at stills from a new disaster movie. Roofs were ripped off houses as the sky darkened and winds blew through at 160 km/h.

These weather patterns are truly terrifying and have left people and families devastated. The cleanup has begun and is expected to take quite some time, with over 50 homes damaged in York alone. It really is a testament to how powerful the forces of nature can be, and how well prepared we need to be for potential damage from storms and other extreme weather patterns. Sadly, residents of Queensland do not have insurance to cover the damage from the floods. Hopefully it is a different story for residents of the wheatbelt region of WA.

As far as chipping in to help with the damage goes, many suggestions have been brought up. The idea of a flood levy received mixed responses. I personally like OurPatch blogger, danscott’s suggestion of taxing all gambling activities to contribute to the flood relief efforts. Australian television personalities, Kochie and Mel, are promoting Operation Bounce Back on their show, Sunrise. The plan is to assemble as many tradesmen as possible to volunteer to help with the rebuilding efforts in flood-affected areas. If you are a tradie or you know one, check out the website and maybe get involved. They need people with all skill types.

In WA, an army of tradies probably will not be required. Local carpenters, roofers, landscapers and plumbers will be working overtime to get houses repaired. If you live in the wheatbelt region, there are plenty of tradies in nearby areas, ready and willing to help you out. Even if all you need is a handyman to help with basic repairs, someone will be available to help.

From everyone here at OurPatch, good luck to everyone recovering from extreme weather patterns. This reminder of the nature’s disastrous potential will no doubt ensure that the weather stays a hot topic of conversation for a while.

Published: Jan 31, 2011 12:26pm by cbere.

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