Continuing my personal story of the floods which devastated Gloucestershire exactly five years ago…
I was realistic about our chances of getting away the following morning. As we went to bed and it was STILL raining, I said to my husband ‘If it’s still raining in the morning, I don’t think we will be able to go’. After all, if it was impossible to even get into town, it was probably going to be quite difficult to make it 120 or so miles up the motorway to Cheshire.
But in the morning, the rain had stopped. So I got up and finished the packing.
Then the phone rang. It was my Mum. It was still only about 7am.
‘You’re not going, are you?’
‘Yes, it’s stopped raining.’
She told me there had been problems on the M5, so I turned the telly on and it was the first thing I saw. We live in a quiet neck of the woods. You don’t expect to turn the telly on and see the area where you live.
The intensity of the rain had been so great that the M5 had flooded. It had been closed and people had been stranded for 14 hours. Including, I later found out, my best friend, who had also somehow managed to lose her handbag in the kerfuffle of 14 hours not moving on the motorway.
So we weren’t going. I went for a run/ walk instead. The world was a very different place. The area under the railway bridge had filled up like a sink again and there were a couple of cars bobbing around underneath it. The whole area from the railway bridge, across the road to the school and into the park was just one big lake.
I tiptoed through it as best I could and carried on walking. At the top end of the park is a small stream. But it wasn’t a small stream any more, it was a raging, angry river and it was threatening to overflow. People who lived in the houses on the opposite side of the road were manically digging ridges into the grass verge in a desperate attempt to divert the flow from their houses when and if it did overflow. Those ridges are still visible now, five years later.
Because I’d told my boss I was going away and couldn’t work, I didn’t realise that my colleagues were all working around the clock all weekend.
The whole area was a mess – people were stranded, thousands of homes were flooded, there were dramatic rescues happening, people were in rest centres.
But the rain had stopped. Surely things were about to improve? Little did we know, they were about to get a whole lot worse.
Find out how tomorrow…