The Great Wraysbury Floods – 2014 (10)

April 14, 2014

(Cont…..) Part Ten

Welcome to the Truman Show!

"Essential flood supplies and more!"

“Essential flood supplies and more!”

After the usual unsettled nights sleep, upstairs on ‘Gilligan’s Island’ (We could only refer to upstairs as Gilligan’s Island now as downstairs was strictly speaking, completely underwater!) Wednesday 12th February 2014 began with my usual check on Bracken (my dog) to let him out onto our flat roof for his early morning ablutions. But that morning I was overwhelmed with a horrendous stench, ‘what the hell was in that Thames water?’ I thought. It took me a moment to realize, the smell wasn’t coming from the stagnant water downstairs, instead it was clear that the chemotherapy which Bracken had started five days ago was beginning to make it’s presence felt, there was s**t everywhere, the kind of s**t only chemotherapy could cause, which is on a whole new level! Trust me, I’m a former oncology nurse.

I began trying to clean up the evidence before my wife woke up, when I spotted one of our two cats downstairs stood in water up to her stomach, drinking it! Clearly this was no place for her, the water would kill her, unless we found somewhere for her to live for a while. Then it occurred to me, if she had to leave anyway, why not blame her for the smell and diarrhoea.
Genius I thought, as I sat drinking my first coffee of the day. Now I don’t know if I’d contracted dysentery overnight or my trench foot had began spreading to my brain but this random thinking was increasing in frequency. I began to seriously think perhaps all the events connected to the flooding were not real. A bit like the Truman show! (a film about a man who’s life unbeknown to him, existed in a TV world where the whole world watched him face challenging situations which were thrown at him one after the other by the studio directors. Truman and how he reacted to those challenges were the only real things in his TV world)
It was all beginning to make sense now, the camera people everywhere, the hero Dave Francis, the heroine Su Burrows, the environment agency as the villain and an army with rubbish army costumes (no wellington boots and hair too long it wouldn’t fool an Iraqi insurgent). I was convincing myself the floods, Bracken’s cancer and everything else was just like the Truman show! (The Truman show – Wikipaedia)

As I had my fourth coffee I began to think I could hear some studio director or plot writer saying “The flood is not enough, I want more pain, I want more emotion, I need to see more suffering!” Thinking to themselves ‘How can we push this guy to the limit? We know he’ll break soon……… let’s try feeding his dog some poison while he is asleep and see how he reacts to diarrhoea everywhere.’ I decided that if my growing paranoid assumptions were correct then the best plan of action was to try and ‘not give a s**t’. After all, the whole world could be watching me.

Over the next few days, a sequence of events followed that would challenge even the patience of a saint!

With dwindling supplies and barely enough coffee-mate for my fifth cup of coffee, (fresh milk had long gone, since we had no refrigeration) I could hear the studio director calling ‘Cue elation!’ as our daughter arrived with essential supplies and yet more supplies. I had never been as pleased to see her, well not since the last flood four weeks ago. As she staggered across the front garden in her waders, thigh deep in water bringing everything a flood victim could need and more, I began to well-up, just how desperate a situation had this become that I was so emotional seeing my daughter carrying a box of everyday essentials?

Our family was disappearing!

Our family was disappearing!

We had a good couple of hours with her before she had to make the forty mile journey back home. I’m not sure who felt worst, her for having to leave her normally coping parents in such a desperate situation or us because she brought with her optimism and strength, which would shortly be leaving.

But there was one more job to do before she left, take the cat! I don’t like thinking that our cat is fat (well who would?) but she’s a big girl and quite heavy. Our daughter couldn’t get her car any closer than the village at least half a mile away, which was a long way to carry a ‘big-boned’ cat. I looked up and down the road for signs of anything remotely looking like someone who could help us. Then I spotted them, the ‘Water and Animal Rescue’ team parked in a van a hundred yards from our house. Perfect, I thought as put on my waders and made way towards them. There were six burly gentleman sat in the van as I reached it. The driver wound down his window for me to tell him what I wanted. ‘I have a cat that we need to get to the village, is there any chance you could help us?’ I asked. ‘Sorry mate, we don’t do that’ was the reply.
I didn’t even wait for a further explanation, not that I thought there was one coming. ‘Excuse me! I kind of thought my cat would qualify as an animal, my mistake’ I was really on the brink of kicking his van, to this day I don’t know how I stopped myself. All these people pretending to help and I had yet to experience any of it first hand. It was just like everyone was saying and doing things to push me over the edge, just like the Truman show! ‘I know what you mean mate’ he said. What the hell did that mean? I chose not to pursue things further and ignored him heading back towards the house.

It was a sad time carrying our cat all the way to the village, not just because she’s ‘generously portioned’ but also because it was as if we were giving in to the flood. Until now we had managed to convince ourselves we could carry on as normal. The reality was slowly kicking in. Our family was disappearing. Our son had already left home many days ago as a result of our comprised electricity supply and sewage system.

We said goodbye to our cat and our daughter, not knowing when she would get time off work to be able to visit us again. We slowly made our way back home. Perhaps it would not be long before Bracken could no longer cope with all this……or even us! (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 (9)

April 10, 2014

(cont……) Part Nine

I Don’t Like to Complain,……but!

"Time for reflection and reflection and then some more reflection!"

“Time for reflection and reflection and then some more reflection!”

During what seemed like an age waiting for the Army to return and help me with my ecologically-friendly dam, an Emergency Rescue person appeared at my front gate.  He seemed agitated and was obviously desperate to tell someone what had just happened to him. I listened intently. “You’re not going to believe this mate,” he said, “but I’ve just waded here from the Control Centre to assist a person in need of urgent evacuation and you’ll never guess what I found!”

Intrigued and eager to hear more about someone in a possibly worse situation than myself, I urged him to go on.

“I was called to the house next door!”  He said, gesticulating wildly.  I had noticed, a little while earlier, a young chap standing at the top of the metal stairs outside the front door of the said house but had assumed he was out having a cigarette.  Goodness, maybe someone in there was ill! I knew there was a young family with a child in the house but I wasn’t sure who the other occupants were.

“What?” I said, “You mean the house that was built in breach of Building Regulations, that is at least 4’ (1.22m) off the ground and that has probably contributed to the fact that my home is now flooded inside!”

“Yes!” he replied, “and can you believe it, there was a bloke, about thirty or so, standing at the top of the stairs wearing a rucksack and a lovely pair of brogues. I asked him if this was the right address for the emergency evacuation. “Yes!” he said, “Thank God you’re here, my mate is coming to the village to collect me but I can’t get there as I have no Wellingtons boots, can you take me in a boat?”

“Unf****ingbelievable!” exclaimed the Rescue worker, shaking his head.

Actually I could believe it. I could believe anything these days. “You’re joking” I said, just to humour him, “I hope you told him where to go!” “No I didn’t actually” he said and a wicked grin crept across his face, “I told him to sit tight and someone would be along in a boat when we had one available! How long do you think he’s going to wait there in his shiny brogues until he gives up because I’m certainly not going to call for a boat!”  He was giggling to himself as he set off back to Command Control in the village.

For the first time in four weeks I was actually laughing, the stresses and strains of the past few weeks had taken their toll. I wondered just how long our poor Wellington-bootless neighbour would remain patiently waiting for his water taxi to the village…… an hour or two at least I hoped!

"Perhaps he will wait for one or maybe two hours....I do hope so"

“Perhaps he will wait for one or maybe two hours….I do hope so”

By this point I had been waiting over three hours for the Army to turn up with their log-dam experts. The distraction with the goings-on next door had helped pass the time but it was getting late and the water was continuing to steadily rise inside the house. It was dark now and I decided I could wait no longer. I waded back to the front gate to have a look up and down the road to see if there was any sign of the military.

You can imagine my complete sense of joy (not!) when I spotted a team of soldiers meticulously sandbagging the entrance to the drive of the house next door! Yes, the bloody house next door! The one about 4’ (1.22m) off the ground, in breach of Building Regulations and the one where not more than an hour before some selfish numbskull had thought it reasonable to call for an emergency evacuation because he didn’t own a pair of bloody wellies!!!!

As the soldiers built their wall of sandbags the water found itself another path and began to flow gently, reflecting the moonlight as it went, (how lovely, maybe my wife would like to take a few photos), under the fence dividing our properties and into my front driveway. I stood for a while, transfixed with horror. What were they thinking? The water was nowhere near entering the house next door and never would be. I was about to burst a blood vessel!

I was beginning to think that perhaps the lunatics had well and truly taken over the asylum and whilst these guys were only doing what they had been told, clearly neither them nor their superiors had a clue about identifying the most vulnerable and focusing their efforts there. It was time a former Royal Marsden nurse went and educated them about triage!!!

I’d had enough, I was a reasonable man but no more! I set off at a cracking pace to the village, muttering to myself about the injustices of life, the idiot would-be evacuee next door, the ridiculousness of actually being able to fish in my own garden and the fact that my waders were now chafing because I was trying to stomp!

I arrived at the Command Centre and stormed into the midst of the hall. I stood there, hands on hips, legs apart (because of the chafing obviously), glaring. It was like a scene from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!!

“Who is in charge here?” I exclaimed. There was an immediate hush, I looked around, I was surrounded by burly men, all in various uniforms and all looking at me! I must have looked more distraught than I thought I did because I soon got the reaction I had hoped for. For the first time, someone was listening to my concerns. I explained that I had asked for help over three hours ago and that my property was flooded and the water inside was continuing to rise as soldiers continued to indiscriminately sandbag non-vulnerable properties adding greater threat to those already under water!

Command Control apologized and they told me a team of soldiers would be with me straight away. Excellent. Some help at last! I waited for them outside hoping to get a lift back to my house. Just my luck, in their haste to help they had forgotten about me and had already left and were outside my house sitting in their enormous all-terrain vehicle by the time I had stomped (not quite so aggressively this time!) back home. Still, I was glad of their help, albeit three hours late!

After they had reinforced my eco-friendly dam and helped block the fence between mine and next door’s with their very large, very heavy sandbags, I decided to do the decent thing and gave them the last of my secret stash of Bounty bars (actually they were my wife’s Bounty bars, mine were the Picnic bars and I was keeping them in reserve to throw at any Environment Agency personnel I might see, they are much harder than Bountys). I couldn’t help smiling as I heard a cheer from the back of the vehicle as their Sergeant gave them their reward! I was pleased I’d shown them some appreciation, after all they were just there to help!.………(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 (8)

April 5, 2014

Part Eight

Help from Heroes?

Su Burrows had done a great job asking for help

Su Burrows had done a great job asking for help

Su Burrows had been on the Channel 4 news program with me the night before and had again been doing a great job asking for help and telling David Cameron to provide some. People were now looting our sand bags, surely we would be getting some help soon, albeit a bit late!

I had set the alarm early for Tuesday morning, 11th February 2014 (not that I had needed an alarm for the past month), in order to have time for my mandatory five cups of coffee before tackling the day ahead. Right on cue, at 9.00 am, two very nice people, Jon and Hannah, turned up just as I was carrying out my daily inspection of our homemade, ecologically friendly, log dam at the entrance to the drive. They were from BBC Panorama.

Believe it or not, in the short two hours since I had got out of bed, I’d actually forgotten they were coming. I guess that’s something to do with the trauma of a flood, or Alzheimer’s!!

By now the water was in all the ground floor rooms.  The laminate flooring that I had meticulously laid, plank by plank, in each room over the past ten years (much to the detriment of my knees), had become like a floating pontoon. It was the weirdest sensation as you walked on it. Jon and Hannah were extremely apologetic as they stumbled their way across it, causing bow-waves as they went and splashing water up the walls. “Perhaps we should just go, you guy’s have suffered enough without putting up with us trampling around your home.” Jon said. “Don’t worry” I replied, “People need to see this, I can’t believe how well you’ve timed it.

"I will not cry on national TV, I will not cry......"

“I will not cry on national TV, I will not cry……”

For four hours they patiently listened to our frustrations and stories about Bracken and his chemotherapy and the numerous attempts we’d made to rescue our prize fish. They filmed all around the house and interviewed my wife and me for what seemed like hours before politely saying that we’d probably had enough and they left.

All the time they were in the house, the water had continued to rise gradually, which made for some dramatic film footage but did little to help my blood pressure. (BBC Panorama interview)

I was relieved and pleased with how the interview had gone, it did us both good to be able to get some things off our chests and tell someone who genuinely wanted to hear just how horrendous the past month had been. Despite crying in front of the camera, I was strangely beginning to feel some relief!!!! Crazy as it sounds, the fact that the water had entered our home now meant we could perhaps stop relentlessly trying to prevent it. Perhaps now, for the first time in four weeks, we could start to relax a little…………no chance! The Army were on their way…….from Afghanistan!!!?

"The biggest Army trucks I had ever seen"

“The biggest Army trucks I had ever seen”

In what were the biggest army trucks I’d ever seen, soldier after soldier began to appear, without wellington boots but eager to help. Unfortunately it became increasingly difficult from my perspective to see what help those soldiers were bringing to our plight as they were directed by their seniors to sandbag anything that was wet. Indiscriminately they began to sandbag around drains, cars and properties that were neither near flooding nor occupied anymore. The whole process was putting increasing strain on my eco-friendly dam as the water rather predictably tried to seek the path of least resistance, straight under my dam!

I’d been reluctant over the past few weeks to ask for help, assuming there were far more needy people than me that the emergency services could assist.  However, I was beginning to struggle, I didn’t know what more I could do on my own with no more sandbags to improve my flood defences, so I asked the soldiers as they passed in their rather large truck, “Is it possible you could give me a hand with my dam?  As you are sandbagging other properties the water is being diverted into my driveway which is at a low point in the road.”

One look and the soldier agreed with me, he told me he would report back to command control and someone would be back to help me shortly. Thank goodness, at last we were going to get some physical help with sandbagging! ………..(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 (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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The Great Wraysbury Floods – 2014 (5)

February 28, 2014

Part Five

The aftermath of the January Wraysbury Flood 2014 …………… or just ‘The eye of the storm?’

Following the previous week of distress and anxiety we experienced a few weeks of frustration as we waited for the floodwater to subside from the annexe and the garden. During that time there were numerous telephone calls with our insurance company and the many different players in the flood recovery process. In particular we had to contend with a cyclone of clean up personnel who were a welcome sight to us once the water had subsided. There seemed to be little co-ordination, one company would call us one day and another the next. One team of workers came and ripped up the laminate flooring in the office and the gym. Unfortunately they didn’t pull up the chipboard flooring and insulation layers in the office (which I will expand on the consequences of in a later post). The team left us with one de-humidifier to dry out the office. It took them only a couple of hours, I was left with no evidence of the type of laminate flooring that used to be there and strangely felt as though I’d been burgled.IMG_1126

Office to the right, main house to the left………I think!

A few days later a cyclone hit us, in the form of two burly workmen who turned up a day earlier than they were supposed to. On returning from work I found all the damaged gym equipment dismantled and piled on the garage floor for apparently putting in a skip the next day. Again, I felt as though I’d been burgled, I still had to price up the equipment for the insurance company. Even though I visit the gym regularly, I couldn’t remember exactly what the different machines even looked like, let alone their serial numbers. They assured me they had photographed everything and documented it, which I had to trust them with.

The following day, the skip was duly filled with my beloved damaged goods and swiftly removed two days later. I was impressed with the speed of response but felt a little out of control owing to the lack of co-ordination between the multiple stakeholders in my post-flood clean up.

We thought we had died and gone to heaven when our central heating and hot water was restored thanks to a neighbour who happened to be a wizard electrician and who will forever be a very welcome guest in our house (my wife did say at one point that she wanted to marry him!). It took another three weeks for the water to subside sufficiently to enable us to get our fridge and freezer running again. We had become used to shopping for two to three days maximum at a time and were storing dairy produce in a bucket outside the back door.  We had never eaten so healthily, I have subsequently developed a new requirement for fresh bread every day!

IMG_0112

“Just what has he done to deserve this?”

We began to think we had survived the flood, although not unscathed and the worst was still to come! Bracken (who followers of my blog will know well) had found the flooding difficult, his mood had been down and his lymph nodes were beginning to enlarge rapidly. We decided we could no longer put off a visit to the Queen Mother Hospital at the Royal Veterinary College who had previously treated him (in conjunction with our local vet in Windsor), so on 7th February we embarked on the normal 45 minute drive from our house.  Five hours and numerous blocked flooded roads later our worst fears were confirmed.  After fourteen months in remission Bracken’s Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma had returned, he began CHOP chemotherapy that very day!

We returned home only to find the water was beginning to appear up through the ground in the rear garden. Surely,……..you cannot be serious!!!?

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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The Great Wraysbury Floods – 2014 (4)

February 16, 2014

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!

Part Four

Image

“I’ll try anything me!”

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)

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“It may come as deep as this Steven!”

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.

ImageMy 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!

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