Continuing my personal story of the Gloucestershire floods and water shortage of 2007…
The next morning, I got up early and… the water was still on! We were the lucky ones.
Elsewhere in the county, it really had gone off on Sunday. And some people didn’t even have electricity for about 24 hours. There was a further threat of the electricity going off for the whole county. The water was ‘two inches’ away. Had it flooded, the whole county could have been evacuated. Although the rain had stopped a couple of days previously, this was river flooding. The flash flooding had receded fairly quickly, the river flooding was getting worse. The firefighters and emergency services fought to save that electricity station – and they did it!
We were living in a changed world, a surreal world. Three days earlier it had just been raining. Now people were without water and electricity. And my colleagues were working round the clock.
Our office base had started to flood, so essential staff had been transferred to the fire control centre away from the city centre – and next door to Police HQ. Some of my colleagues had been based with the police all weekend – eating sandwiches, crisps and Mars bars from paper bags at 3am.
I arrived to find my boss with hair in a ponytail, glasses on and wearing a council T shirt – all very out of character.
I was vaguely told what to do – and I went and worked it out. It was just a case of taking calls, briefing people, briefing the media and logging everything – on paper and on a white board. We had ONE email account between us – maybe 50 staff all working on different things. People were trying to track down portaloos from around the country.
We had different people working with us and my boss texted me and told me not to let them boss me around. I was the only media person in, so what I said on media was what happened – even if others were several layers of management above me.
There was a press conference every couple of hours. The two days originally mentioned quickly became four days, a week, two weeks. No-one knew how long we would be without water.
I worked from 8 until 5. Some days I worked from 3pm to 10pm. I wore my jeans on those days, no-one cared. The toilet in the Police HQ building next door flushed – so we had to use that one. There was a pass card to get in and out. One evening I was the only woman in the building and I was desperate for the toilet. I sat there for hours because I didn’t want to ask a male manager for the toilet pass!
Read part 1 here
Read part 2 here
Read part 3 here