The Great Wraysbury Floods – 2014 (7)

March 29, 2014

Part Seven

The Longest Day

"A fish irrigation system better than the Jubilee Relief River"

“A fish irrigation system better than the Jubilee Relief River”

Monday morning, 10th February 2014, came far too soon for my liking with a phone call from a neighbour advising me that I might want to move my car. I had parked both cars up on the pavement at the front of our house, sure that at that height off the road they would be okay. The water was everywhere, it was running like a river along the road. I only just managed to open the car door without the water getting in. Thankfully I managed to drive to dryer ground and at the roadblock was told to take my car to the ‘safe’ flood car park in the playground at the local primary school. The main road was already impassable meaning a detour to get there. Safely parked, I sprinted as fast as I could in my chest-high waders to get the other car.

Both cars were parked nicely together in the playground complete with my contact details in the windscreen as I’d been instructed, so I felt some relief that at least the cars were safe, albeit half a mile ‘down river’ from my house. It was just 08.00am!

"Our worst fears were confirmed"

“Our worst fears were confirmed”

The rest of the day was spent re-checking things, particularly the dam at the entrance to the drive and transferring our prize Koi from their temporary holding tank, which although standing more than 2.5’ (>80cm) above the ground was now filling with dirty floodwater. We set up another two temporary holding tanks on the highest decking at the back of the house with a connecting aeration and filter system, no mean feat given the circumstances.

The rest of the day was filled by mostly doing TV interviews. First BBC London, two nice guys who only had Wellington boots on so could only interview me on the pavement outside the house. Then Channel 4, they were also nice and so were their Wellington boots, red I think! BBC Panorama also turned up (wearing waders) and asked if their team could come and talk to me later that day. At around 4.00pm I got a call from Channel 4 asking me if I would take part in a live TV debate with Jon Snow at 7.00pm. I agreed, I was so angry I just wanted to help ensure everyone knew what was going on in our poor village.

The whole operation so far was relying on the villagers themselves and volunteers and sand bags intended for us were being hi-jacked by some low life’s who were then trying to sell them on! We needed help.

I had heard that soldiers had been deployed to the neighbouring village of Datchet to protect it but no-one had come to Wraysbury, perhaps because we were already flooded? Perhaps the rumours were true, Wraysbury had intentionally been flooded to protect Windsor and Maidenhead, home of the Queen and The Fat Duck and numerous celebs and affluent residents. I’m led to believe the riverside brasserie in Bray, continued to serve lunch to the rich throughout the whole flooding period, amazing!

The water was well over 2’ [>60cm] deep at the front of the house and 3’ [>90cm] at the deepest point in the back garden (6’ [1.8m] if you stood where the pond used to be!) as I set off for my TV appearance. Our worst fears had been realized, it had just begun to come through the floor in one of our downstairs rooms. I was now in exactly the right frame of mind to meet Jon Snow. My interview was to take place at a makeshift venue by the local pub. I was really anxious as I made my way there, I wanted to make sure my head was clear and that I could get across all the points I wanted to make.

"It's Gilligan Jon, just like I told you 30 seconds ago .......as in Gilligan's Island!"

“It’s Gilligan Jon, just like I told you 30 seconds ago …….as in Gilligan’s Island!”

It wasn’t long before I realized I wasn’t really going to have much opportunity to speak or voice my concerns, I was clearly there as a token ‘flood victim’ with the debate being centered around the Environment Secretary (who wasn’t there in person), an MP and a representative from Greenpeace who talked some rubbish about climate change, talk about bad timing! To add insult to injury Jon Snow, who I have always admired, got my name mixed up with that of the Greenpeace guy on national television. How much more humiliating can all this get! I quickly corrected him though! Interview over, I met my wife to go and get something to eat in the pub. At about 10.00pm we waded home. Jon Snow meets Bruce GILLIGAN!

One more check before trying to go to sleep. We’d done everything we possibly could to protect our house and valuables.

The water level hadn’t altered much, all we could do now was hope and pray I guess! Oh yes, and ring BBC Panorama to tell them not to bother coming that night, I’d forgotten they’d called me earlier and were planning to get to me by 11.00pm.

Good news, the BBC Panorama camera team’s flight had been delayed so they asked if they could come the following morning instead.

………..(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!

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The Great Wraysbury Floods – 2014 (6)

March 2, 2014

Part Six

“Keep Calm!………. We Know What To Do!”

IMG_0257

‘Not even enough time to implement my ‘flood friendly’ house modification plans’

Overnight the water had continued to rise in the back garden. It was different this time, it was quicker. We hadn’t even had time to implement a few home modifications I had thought of since the last flood. By Saturday afternoon on the 8th February we had positioned the sandbags we had carefully stored from the last flood, around the garage door and had created a polythene and sandbag dam both at the entrance and exit of the garage. I knew from experience that the water would not come up through the concrete floors in the annex, instead the threat would be from water gushing across the road and into the drive if the field opposite flooded again.

Doing something different to the flood just three weeks ago gave us a feeling that maybe this time we’d beat it and perhaps this time there wouldn’t be as much water anyway!

The next job was to build the dam at the entrance to the driveway. I couldn’t handle the prospect of being woken again at some ungodly hour to be told that there was a river where my drive used to be. By evening we were exhausted, let’s face it, we’d not really had time to recover from the last flood and the clear up, let alone being in a fit state to be doing it all again………not at our age anyway!

We collapsed into bed and prepared to see what daylight would bring. Besides, it was a big day tomorrow, there was a village meeting to discuss the last flood.

In the morning our worst fears were confirmed, this was not going to go away any time soon, but we were still hopeful the water levels would not be as high as last time. At 2.00pm on Sunday 9th February, along with our neighbours, we descended on the village school for the flood meeting.

images-10

Councillors, Colin Rayner, Andrew Davies, John Lenton, our head flood warden Dave Francis and Simon Dudley from the RBWM. Click on the following link to hear what we had to hear. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boU3on_Oif0&sns=em

The school hall was packed, all our Flood Wardens were there along with a representative from the Environment Agency and local councilors.  It was standing room only so we made our way to the back of the hall and waited for proceedings to commence.  The mood was tense but optimistic.  There were jokes about the events of the past few weeks, Brits putting on a brave face, the old “War Spirit” I guess.

The meeting was called to order, a hush weighted with anticipation descended.  We were told that an emergency meeting had been held earlier that day with the powers that be and that we were on the brink of catastrophic flooding. There was a stunned silence around the room, neighbours exchanging glances of disbelief. A few people even left at that point. We were told the Army were being deployed to help with evacuations and were descending on the neighbouring village of Datchet that evening to begin constructing a sandbag wall of defence. The school was going to be utilized in the coming days as a relief centre and then a very nice gentleman took to the stage to give us hints and tips on protecting ourselves and our possessions.

We set off for home in silence.  What was there left to say?  Once in the house we had a stiff drink and began the process of raising everything off the floor, wrapping what we could in bin liners, wrapping up the bottoms of all our doors like Christmas presents and collapsed into bed at about 1.00am after a bowl of soup. Maybe the Environment Agency were being over-cautious after the debacle in January…..let’s face it, they have often been wrong before!!

If you enjoy reading my blogs, any contribution, however small, towards Bracken’s now in excess of £6,000.00 chemotherapy bill, would be greatly appreciated.

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!

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