(…our living room, that is.)
We’re used to grey skies here, but Friday morning was just ridiculous. It felt as if we were living on the bottom of a lake.
I put on the coffee and went back to bed, snivelling. It wasn’t actually that cold. Had I left the heating on?
Then I remembered: it’s July—not November.
Outside, the water was lapping at our doorstep.
Four centimetres below the threshold, it began to recede. The brook that flows past our house was still draining, although a slight overspill had occurred on the opposite lawn where the bank is slightly lower. We’d gotten away with it—this time.
I went back upstairs and sat down at the computer, reflecting on the floods which have claimed parts of Yorkshire twice this summer. It had been close. Almost smugly, I took one last look out of the window.
The footpath had disappeared.
You have probably read that you’re not supposed to camp in or near dry river beds, right? Because flash floods, when they happen, won’t leave you time to get away. Believe.
The water was now irrevocably creeping over the threshold. I had perhaps a few minutes left. Staring vacantly at my feet, I wondered if we would all get electrocuted once it reached the sockets. I tore down the mains switch, but some houses stood empty as the water rose; in others, people had other things on their mind. There had been no news about electrocuted flood victims in Yorkshire…
Whatever. There was no time to hesitate.
Shakily, I pulled on wellies and shoved boxes, papers and books indiscriminately onto window sills, chairs and tables. There wasn’t time to think or plan ahead.
As the carpet rose and began to wobble underneath my feet, my perception of reality shifted. This was really happening, there was no arguing with nature.
I continued to snatch things up blindly. Nothing could be saved if the water rose much above knee height.
By the time I remembered the storage space underneath the stairs, it was already too late. I grabbed the camera and stumbled down the front step, the water percolating into my useless wellies.
We all gathered on the nearest patch of road, looking on bemusedly as the calamity unfolded. The hammer blows and drills at number 13, where our neighbours have spent the last couple of weeks renovating, were now silenced. The woman at number 15 shook her head and muttered something about new carpets. “Three months old.” Her voice grew louder. “I won’t allow anyone to eat in the lounge,” she said. “No shoes. I even wipe the dog’s feet.”
The dog had just swum all the way from said lounge to the parking lot.
After an hour, the waters receded. The light from the windows reflected lazily in an indoor lake on the kitchen floor. I mopped it up with a bathtowel and spent the afternoon trying to brush out a river from our living room, cubic centimetre by bloody cubic centimetre. Some instinct took over decreeing that I should be doing something, however futile.
The deluge had come to within a centimetre of our ground floor sockets. The electricity was still working. So was the washing machine. As for our carpets, they were due for replacement, and our landlord will be pleased that the insurance pays for it.
As I’m writing this, the gasfire and fan heaters are blowing away downstairs, raising the temperature to sub-tropical levels while outside the rain continues.
We almost got away with it—this time.