Floods, friends, and foes Part 1

So.. I was watching the ‘Tournament of Champions’ golf in Hawaii on the sixth of January. It’s on very late if you live in the Uk, and as usual my mind was chuntering away. It dawned on me, suddenly, that on that night, seven years ago, we flooded.

This is not a story about ‘poor us’, we dealt with it, we were all fine. This may just be a cathartic rambling, with a hint of a rant about officials we came across..

The weather was shocking that night, rain, rain, and more rain. We live in the UK. We get rain a. lot. Nothing new there then. But this night would turn out to be very different…

The reason I mentioned the golf is that if I hadn’t been watching Tiger Woods, I would have been in bed, and the situation would have been a lot worse. The whole street was probably snuggled up in bed, but there was me, watching golf at about midnight when I decided to go put my pyjamas on. Walking up the stairs I glanced out of the landing window, to see a river running down the street. This took a moment to register. I back-tracked, and peered out of the window again. Yes, definitely a river, but the actual river (a very small one, we’re not talking the Thames here) is behind the house. Not in front of, there was supposed to be a road.

I woke my husband from his slumber and with a certain amount of trepidation explained the situation as I knew it, along with my worries. Mainly “If the water comes in, what about the couch?” I probably repeated this more times than I should have, as we had the couch that had belonged to my wonderful Foster mum sent from the U.S. It was and still is, very important. Anyway my ‘perpetually laid back’ husband replied; as he was turning over to go back to sleep “It’ll be fine, don’t worry.”

I decided to go and see the back of the house, but only by going into the conservatory. I’m not that brave. I did not like what I saw. The water had already filled the garden and was right up to the house, but not very deep.

Over the next half hour I watched the water level rise. We had a very handy Moorish style wall in the garden I could use as a gauge. During this time of diligence, I decided I should try and ring anyone on the street I had a number for to alert them. The only fail in that aspect was a very good friend of mine who was a bit deaf. I will come back to her later.

My worries had obviously planted a seed in my husband’s head, as he appeared from upstairs, fully dressed, shoes and everything. This probably worried me more. Almost like he was preparing for battle, minus the sword. He might be laid back but he’s extremely smart, very measured, and not at all like me; inwardly running around like a headless chicken. He had thought about the potential difficulty of the sitch and was ready to act. My hero!

Quite quickly we realised the living room carpet felt very odd underfoot. It was a strange sensation. We pondered. OH YES. EUREKA. The carpet was floating. Investigating further, the water was coming into the conservatory, at speed. It was at this point I was at my smartest (not), getting the mop and bucket to try keeping the water back. Just call me Canute. My husband gently persuaded me that this exercise was fruitless, and that we should concentrate on ‘saving stuff’. Any furniture downstairs that was light enough we put on tables. We put the couch & chairs on upturned ‘stack and store’ boxes. Unplugged and lifted all the cables for tv etc. Luckily all of the electricals where quite high, so we just had to keep an eye on the levels.

Our last efforts were for comfort. We got the kettle and coffee, litter trays and cat food, and scarpered upstairs. The cats were already there looking a tad puzzled..

The couch did start floating on its boxes, which we found incredible. It weighs a ton, but it didn’t take any harm. Phew. We would check the water levels periodically to make sure the electrical things were still out of  harms way.

At some point during the night, not sure when, this is where I become a bit muddled. The fire brigade and the police started banging on doors telling us to turn off electric etc. I was not happy about this as we were all electric, so no coffee. They also asked if we wanted to leave for a ‘place of safety’. We declined. The water was not getting upstairs we thought. It eventually stopped at about a foot so we were lucky. Further down the street they had four feet. Elsewhere in the town it was a lot deeper.

This is where my good friend comes in. The fire brigade had to bang, very loudly, for ages before she stirred. It was awful for her because she came down to a house full of water and lots of prized possessions ruined, including her wedding photos. This aside, there was something faintly comical, which she alludes to herself, about her standing on the kitchen worktop in her nightie, talking to a fireman through the window.

At this point you may ask why I didn’t try going over to wake her myself. Well, the river running down the street was very different to the water at the back of the house. It was very fast moving. I’m pretty sure I would have been swept away.

We survived the night with little sleep because at some time the wind picked up and it sounded like our roof had been ripped off. This scared me more than the water downstairs.

A wet street!
A wet street!

Saturday morning brought problems, albeit very small. Our phones didn’t work because they use electric, and our mobiles were very quickly running out of juice. We were holed up in the bedroom, and I think I started reading aloud from Bill Bryson in a bid to keep while away the hours. We made calls to important people, and had calls from the same, including another good friend of ours. He’s one of these guys who has everything. I am not exaggerating.  He said we would endeavour to reach us on Sunday to give us a hand. Sweet. We had little information about what was going on. We were told our town had ‘closed’ written on the motorway junction signs. We didn’t even have a battery operated radio. Sometimes technology is not the be all and end all.

I think early Saturday evening I got some sleep, and, as I woke up, Husband said that the water had gone from inside the house. YAY! Oh.. Wait.. We were left with a very thick layer of sludge. Yum.

There was still water outside on Sunday, but we could wade though it to check on neighbours that were still there. Then late morning whilst trying to clean up, our friend appeared, walking, because he had to abandon his car somewhere else, with bright yellow waders, wellies, and a generator. I had this slow-mo moment, you know the hero in the film walking towards you from some scary situation!

To be continued..

Floods, friends, and foes Part 1

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