This blog has been sadly neglected for the past few weeks. We went to England to visit my family for the holiday season. I had intended to keep up the posts, though only occasionally, but with one thing and another that didn’t happen.
We stayed at my mum’s house for most of our time in England. Her house, the house I grew up in, is in a village part way between the towns of Maidstone and Tonbridge in Kent. Three rivers flow through this village and join up before carrying onwards as one larger river. It’s not unusual for the biggest of the rivers, the river Medway, to flood in the winter. There is a large field on the outskirts of the village that usually acts as a barrier to prevent the river causing too much trouble, though sometimes it does spill onto the road by that field. The river Beult which runs through the centre of the village also rises slightly most winters, but here again there is a barrier – this time in the form of gardens.
This year the winter weather was wetter than usual. We had storms of high winds and pounding rain. We were out on the evening of the 23rd and returned late at night, finding that the Medway was already across the field and beginning to pool on the road. We walked down on Christmas Eve morning to find the road closed having been completely submerged. The houses near the rivers were preparing their flood defences. A converted boathouse by the Beult (which, unsurprisingly, has a propensity to flooding) has a ‘skirt’ to keep the water out. Other houses blocked up their doorways with sand bags.
The rain continued through the day. The village is something of a “plughole” – it gets run-off water from all around, which really does not help the situation. When we went down Christmas morning to see how the floods were doing the difference was amazing. The whole lower road of the village was now a river itself. Locals were going out on boats to rescue people from their houses. We later discovered that a flood barrier had been opened in order to prevent a larger town flooding. There had been a similar event back in 2000, but from what I remember it was not quite as severe.
Many, many houses were flooded on Christmas Day. Even some that were considered high enough to avoid the water levels were caught. My mum’s house in the High Street (which is not the lower road, as the news constantly reported it to be) is too high to be flooded so avoided that fate. We were affected though – the floods meant it was next to impossible to leave the village, so we were pretty much stranded. We also had power failures to contend with. Christmas evening into Boxing day we were without power for near on twenty four hours which meant it got very, very cold!
The flood levels did go back down surprisingly quickly, though the damage was already done to the houses that flooded. We managed to get some pictures of the floods, and I think they tell the story pretty well.
P.S. The blog should get back on track by next weekend at the latest – we’ve already got a Cat-urday post in the works!