Monday, February 18, 2013

A break from the sea!

On Sunday a couple of weeks ago after tropical cyclone Felleng passed us by it was hot hot hot, so we decided to head to a nearby river at  Langevin to see how high the water was after the storm as to see if it was safe to swim (usually it takes a while before its safe for swimming in the sea or the rivers after a storm passes by).

Sundays here are really big family days for picnics at the beaches, in the heights and by the rivers (everywhere really!) so there were plenty of people about.  However in the past we were lucky enough to have been shown a large rock pool higher up the river that is usually quieter and we headed there.  Sure enough while there were some people about it was a lot quieter and while the river was high it looked ok for swimming so in we went.  And my was it worth the trip, I love swimming in rivers, its very different swimming in a river than in the sea, for one thing its a lot cooler.  For another the fresh water isn't as harsh (or buoyant) as the salt water and waterfalls even the small ones are lots of fun and surprisingly powerful!

So note to self, more trips to Langevin!  It may take 30 - 40 minutes to get there instead of the 10 - 15 it takes to get to the beach but when its hot hot hot its worth it.

Langevin river

Sam, Ela and I, exploring the shallows.

Enjoying the waterfall.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Felleng passing by!

Tropical cyclone Felleng passed between Reunion and Madagascar over the last few days.  It was closer to Madagascar so it missed the Island by 100's of km but we still had three days or so of heavy rains and high winds (not as bad as Madagascar where four people died).  It was the first cyclone near miss that we were on the island for and its given us an idea of the power of the storms even when they miss the island by 100's of km.
For us it was lazy family time together as we weren't able to go out much and the kids are off school on Wednesdays, there was a teachers strike on Thursday (no idea why) and the schools were closed on Friday due to the weather. 

Sam and I in the sea at Grand Anse just before the first of the heavy rains, it's not very obvious in the picture but the waves were very high (and lots of fun) due to the storm.
Take a look at the clip at the link below:
The link above goes to a local news site which shows the road from Saint Pierre (the main town near us) to Saint Louis being washed away and gives an idea of the power of the floods. That same section of road was washed away during the last near miss about a month ago and cost €500,000 to repair that time!  In the clip you can see a shiny new bridge that is supposed to replace the old road (I guess they were getting of replacing it), it has been under construction since before we arrived on the island and will be completed soon (hopefully!).
The fact that the topography of the island is so steep means that all the rain water get funnelled into ravines and you get huge amounts of water flowing down in short periods of time and there can be flash floods as well as regular flooding.  All over the island where roads cross these ravines or other low points in the local terrain you get warning signs and barriers that can be lowered when the roads are flooded as cars have been washed away in the past.
Water still flowing over one of the local roads almost two days after peak of the heavy rain.
Luckily Reunion being France it has the construction standards and infrastructure that means that casualties and damage here from cyclones is a lot less that on nearby Madagascar (I still feel guilty though because as a storm fan I'm looking forward (if a bit nervously) to seeing the power of one close up when one does hit the island).