I never thought our house would be flooded. Sure, every time the rain is heavy, water gets into a friend's house across from us and soaks their mattress (and we wonder how they sleep in the damp). And yes, often enough the row of rental units behind us get up to ankle deep in flood water. But our floor level has always remained high and dry (apart from the weeping walls, but that’s a separate issue).
So when we were woken at 4am one Tuesday by a violent thunderstorm we weren’t too worried. Though as we lay in bed we wondered how we’d get the girls to school. Only the day before had the normally 10 minute commute taken 1.5 hours as flooding had choked the roads and we were forced to skirt dodgily along the edge of a full-flowing muddy canal. Our kids turned up to school an hour late, mud all over their legs and even their faces! Listening again to the pounding rain, we decided this would be an off-day.
Then at six I poked my head outside. “Oops, it’s on our porch!” In fact it was pouring in under the door. We tried using rags to stop it, but it was rising too fast. Then we made frantic efforts to move toys, fabric, and other valuables upstairs, and lifted the fridge onto the seat. Another family next door didn’t have an upstairs, so damp books and clothes covered every raised surface: chairs, bench seats, beds.
We were waterlogged for the next nine hours, muddy water levels stubbornly remaining at 150mm above our floor. School was called off. Our team was doing literacy education training – that was cancelled too. The field near us became a lake, at least 500mm deep. Some neighbours who were accustomed to flooding in their homes had water up to their heads!
We kept the kids occupied for some hours upstairs, but then we gave in and let them go swimming outside with their friends. Neighbours even took the opportunity to go fishing in the streets! Fish were escaping from nearby recreational fish farms.
Finally the water receded and our power came back on at 5pm so we could pump up clean water for the cleanup. At dinner we asked the girls to name the “most fun” and the “most horriblest” thing about the day. They couldn’t name anything horrible, but had lots to say about the fun time they’d had!
Photocredit: Johnny Silvercloud on flickr.