On the evening of 19th July, 2007, it started to rain. It rained and rained and rained and rained. The next morning, it was still raining.
This is my story of the dramatic few days that followed. I’m not claiming it was ‘the worst’, because it wasn’t, nowhere near. I am not taking anything away from people who suffered badly for weeks and months afterwards, it is simply my story.
On 20th July, 2007, ‘the floods’ were something that had happened three and a bit weeks earlier, on 25th June. Parts of the country, particularly Hull, were really badly hit and where I live, Gloucestershire, was pretty badly flooded too. The area under the railway bridge, just along the road from where I live, had filled up like a sink and there were cars bobbing around in it. But as I looked out of the window on 20th July, I said to my two little ones, then aged 16 months and 3 1/2, ‘That is the worst rain I’ve ever seen’. And it was.
By the time we went to pick up my son from school, the road was a running torrent of water. Cars were driving at a snail’s pace and everyone was drenched, cold and unhappy. We waited and waited and waited. The school was flooded inside. Water had poured in from the road and park and down the school drive and was also coming up through the drains. The only way for the whole school to get out was through a single classroom door. It was a VERY long wait. My poor 3 year old boy was soaked to the skin, while his sister was warm and dry under the rain cover of the buggy.
The teachers, and some of the kids, ended up staying until late at night because it was impossible for the teachers to get home and the parents to reach the kids.
By the time we got home, panic was getting a grip across the town. My Mum rang to tell me the roads were gridlocked and my husband needed to set off for home immediately. My brother-in-law was caught up in solid traffic in the town centre. He didn’t mind if he made it home, to his mum’s house or my mum’s house, he just wanted to make it somewhere. My sister made it to my Mum’s house, then later abandoned her car in a sports club car park before wading the remaining mile home in water up to waist height.
The lake in the park had burst its banks and flooded not only the road, but the local leisure centre. Who had ever thought a swimming pool could get flooded?! But it did. And it was out of action for well over a year after that.
My husband was taking a rather more relaxed approach. Around his normal home time he finally decided to set off. He stopped at McDonald’s for his tea and was home quicker than normal. Apparently the roads were empty.
At my office, two of my colleagues ended up staying the night, to be available as the whole situation descended into an emergency – and because they couldn’t get home anyway.
My boss texted to say they would probably need help over the weekend. I said I wouldn’t be able to help as I was going away. Yeah, right.
To be continued…