It seems strange writing this post about the first flood that happened four weeks ago, when I’m actually in the thick of an even greater challenge. However, the posts were already written so it would make sense to carry on in a chronological order. Please be patient….we are nearly there!
I was up off and on all night, having nightmares mostly, about water strangely enough. This time though morning came a little sooner than expected. Having checked the water on my last visit to the bathroom at about 4.00am I’d decided I would try to catch-up on my lost sleep and stay in bed until at least 8.30am, after all it was Saturday!.
At 7.30am there was a loud bang on the door, it was one of my neighbours. Don’t you hate it when you feel as if you’ve slept in but really you haven’t? “I think you should see this” she said, pointing out to my driveway entrance. Oh my god!!! Now I’ve seen the film ‘The Impossible’ so I know it wasn’t like a Tsunami but I challenge any one not to be shocked with what I saw, I had a river, compete with rapids, running into my already full front garden. It was coming from the field at the back of the houses opposite us, through their gardens, across the road and into my driveway and a couple of others. My immediate thought was how to slow it down, but I soon realized that whatever I was going to try and do it would probably be preferable for me to change out of my pyjamas first.
I knew the powers that be had already been refusing sandbags for garage doors so I suspected they wouldn’t let me have any for my gate, people had already started fighting over sandbags and the mood I was in I didn’t want to put myself in the position where I might murder some small footed panic buyer trying to get some sand bags for their rabbit hutch…….six miles away!
I decided to build a dam on the outside of my gate, like the beavers do. We have a log burner in the house so I had a constant reserve of large logs waiting to be chopped up, I decided to try and make a dam to at least slow the flow of water and buy us more time. I was pretty impressed with my efforts, whilst it didn’t stop the water completely it at least slowed it down and gave the water a reason to look for an easier way to go, which fortunately for me was along the road.
That’s when Sky television in the form of Steven Douglas turned up. My chance to be famous perhaps, what a shame I hadn’t had a shower since Wednesday morning and had been wearing the same hat (even in bed) for three days…….not a great look. (You can see it if you like on the following link: Bruce on Sky News)
Having filmed all round the house, Steven Douglas and his cameraman went on their way, they were extremely empathetic and I enjoyed talking to them. Steven told me it would be on the Six O’clock News but I didn’t really care. Unless Sky News could stop my house flooding then I wasn’t too interested.
By now we couldn’t get to the pavement in just Wellington boots, the water was at least 18” deep around the house, we needed waders, even to just get out of the house,……but preferably not polystyrene-lined ones!
Our daughter arrived later that day with supplies only a police officer could think of. Whilst I’m always pleased to see her, I can honestly say I’ve never been as pleased as I was to see her that day. She’d brought hot water bottles, Mars bars, dog and cat food, tins of food, soup, candles, kindling for the log fire and of course three pairs of waders (non-polystyrene). I was so proud of her to have thought of so much and I felt stronger just with her being there. She helped me move the cars to even higher ground as now the exhaust pipes were only millimeters from the water on the road.
By late afternoon our neighbour had given in and decided to move out and stay with her son for the night. She gave us a key to her house and said we were welcome to use her shower. I promised I would keep an eye on things but with only about two inches to go until the water breached her front door, I wasn’t sure what I was offering to do.
The water was still rising but had begun to slow down. I heard from neighbours who still had electric and had internet access that the environment agency had opened the Jubilee Relief River at 6.00am that morning, which had caused the field opposite us to flood and water to rise rapidly. Well, good to know our neighbours upstream were safe and dry.
We were both too exhausted to care anymore. We had done everything we could and moved whatever we could lift in the house onto bricks or upstairs. All that was left for us to do was hope and pray.
My wife and I were not going to pass up the chance of a hot shower next door, we both wanted to be very stoic about things but after four days in dirty Thames water and being without heating in the middle of January we decided to accept the kind offer. It was like visiting a luxury spa! We went next door armed with clean pyjamas, shower gel and clean fluffy towels and indulged ourselves. We even took the liberty of making a couple of coffees and just stood in the steamy warm bathroom enjoying the heat! We felt much stronger and warm for the first time in nearly a week. We would sleep well tonight because we’d stopped caring………we both agreed, it is what it is!
The first wave of the great flood of Wraysbury in 2014 peaked overnight in the early hours of Sunday 12th January 2014, rising within 3 inches of entering our home. That might sound a lot to anyone who has not experienced a flood but believe me, when you are faced with that, it’s an extremely frightening thing. Unfortunately the annex to the house that comprises of the garage, a gym, a utility room and my beloved office, wasn’t spared the devastation that threatened the main house, eight inches of water made it in there, what a pity someone in their wisdom ruled ‘no sand bags for garage doors’, before they considered the potential impact on some properties. Still we were all alive, that’s something, right? Forgive me for sounding ungrateful, I guess six days without hot water or any heating in January was beginning to take its toll. We had electricity limited to one room with plug sockets upstairs and lights available just in some rooms. Strangely enough, whilst we’d no microwave, or any sockets working downstairs, our oven still worked. From this point forward we will refer to our home as “Gilligan’s Island’.
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!