It’s strange writing a post about the flood that happened almost four weeks ago, particularly considering I’ve spent most of today sand bagging again for a potential second flood of 2014………but let’s keep it chronological, so here goes. I hope you enjoy!
On Wednesday morning I went to work pretty much as normal for a first day back, whilst it was still dark when I left the house I could see well enough to check there was no water in our garden.
During the day, my wife sent me a few up-date texts on the water levels. It was clear given the current weather forecast, there was going to be no let up soon. By early Wednesday evening the water was beginning to come up from the ground in the back garden, firstly with the appearance of an impressive puddle in the middle of the lawn, gradually getting deeper and more widespread as the evening went on. Although I was worried, I knew that life would have to go on and decided I should go to bed early to face another day in the office tomorrow. My wife offered to stay up to keep an eye on things and promised to wake me if she needed to.
At 4.30am she woke me. I felt dreadful and full of fear, I wasn’t even sure I could get up but I did. The electricity in the house had gone off and about half of the back garden was now under water. The butyl liner in our pond had began to do the strangest thing and inverted itself, pushing upwards and inwards with the pressure of the water around and below it. The fish were pretty distressed by this point and as the water rose in the garden it wouldn’t be long before they would be able to swim out and into the emerging lake that used to be the garden!
Needless to say, there was no danger of me being able to go back to sleep. I tried, by torchlight, to see if I could do anything to turn some electrics back on, but without success. I decided it might be better to wait until daylight.
After being up since the early hours I decided to work from home on Thursday, we waited for dawn to arrive so we could at least see what we were doing with the electrics. I think it was the longest couple of hours ever! We remained hopeful that all this would just suddenly subside and we would have nothing to worry about.
Daylight arrived and whilst the water continued to rise during the morning, it was quite slow. I had a busy work day planned so decided to get on with some important business calls. I would have to try and figure out the electricity situation later.
Around lunchtime my wife ran in from the garden wildly signaling for me to get off the phone, water had suddenly started flowing into our already flooded garden from next door, it was running like a fast stream. This was becoming serious!
There was no way to stop the flow, as the day progressed the water just got deeper and deeper. Fortunately my engineering background enabled me to isolate one of the circuits that was tripping the main fuse box on the electrics, so I was at least able to have some lights in the house. Unfortunately though I was less successful with the electric socket circuit and the central heating, which meant we were without electric sockets downstairs in the house and therefore meant we had no appliances in our kitchen, including the fridge and freezer.
It was now looking serious, I knew I would have to give in and go and buy a pair of Wellington boots! The fish were already escaping into the garden, some of them I’d had for around twenty years, making them pretty irreplaceable. Fortunately I’d already moved the car to higher ground further along the road so I was able to go to the nearest town. I saw some scary sights on the way, parks that were now lakes and houses that looked even more under threat than ours.
Unfortunately things were to get worse. It soon became apparent that the people who usually panic buy all the bread in the supermarkets whenever there’s a whisper of anything other than normal happening in their miserable, sad lives, also panic buy Wellington boots when it rains a lot! Everywhere had sold-out, the fishing tackle shop was my last chance, surely he had a size 7 (EU41). He said he only had size 13 left (EU mucho grande), which would suggest panic buyers don’t have large feet. However, that aside, for someone who is a size 7 on a good day, a size 13 was seriously not an option. Surely he had something in a 7, maybe in the back of the shop?………Wow, he did! From the depths of his storeroom he brought a pair of, well, something vaguely resembling Wellingtons!!?? They were designed (as he explained enthusiastically) to withstand temperatures of -30c and had a special neoprene sock and polystyrene lining. Despite them being so weirdly shaped that I couldn’t even tell which foot they went on, I decided to take them, trying very hard not to show too much desperation in my voice in case he put the price up even more. Trying to feel pleased with my purchase and content in the knowledge that I could now go extreme fishing whenever I wanted, I set off for home via MacDonalds’ for a drive-through, to feed my wife and son who I’d left, quite by coincidence, extreme fishing in my own back yard in an attempt to re-capture our now escaped Koi carp!!!
Despite struggling to stand up in my practically unsinkable polystyrene-lined Wellingtons, I was able to join the team and safely round up the prize Koi. Unfortunately a couple of them were missing, doing their ‘born free’ bit I guess, but most of them were safe and sound in a holding tank. This was clearly just a temporary measure with no spare pump or aeration system to keep them alive for long. My final check that day as to the level of the water since the morning produced some alarming figures, at this rate I wasn’t even sure if we had eight hours left to have a decent night’s sleep.
That night my son went to stay at his girlfriend’s house down the road, they were just as much at risk as us but still had heating and hot water so who could blame him.
My wife and I decided to sleep in a downstairs bedroom on Thursday night, strangely the desire to be immediately aware of any water coming into the house seemed to outweigh any risks of drowning in my sleep. Needless to say, it wasn’t the best night’s sleep either of us had ever had and boy, have I had some sleepless nights, especially with my prostate! I remember getting up during the night to go to the bathroom and when I put my legs over the side of the bed to stand up I was convinced I was going to stand in water, it was terrifying.
Thankfully there wasn’t any water, not yet at least! I went back to bed and began thinking about a cancer patient I had cared for many years before who had kindly told me I would never be out of my depth in response to me apologizing to him for not doing more for him and admitting that I felt out of my depth at times. If he could only see me now! Again I was finding myself in a situation where I really didn’t know what to do. Despite weeks of rain, until earlier today I didn’t even have the foresight to buy a pair of Wellingtons! If the rain kept falling I would be quite literally ‘out of my depth’! (To be continued……..)
Disclaimer: The content in my blog is provided for entertainment purposes only and as such is in no way reflective of any recognized sailing regulations or guidance. Whilst all the stories are factually correct, the identities of the people concerned may have been changed to protect me from any liability. Please consult a sailing book, preferably endorsed by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), before going anywhere near the River Thames. All content is copyrighted to Bracken, in the hope it might eventually pay for his chemo!