Hold Back The River

Well Wednesday seemed to start like any other Wednesday, it was raining which isn’t unusual in the U.K.

Just before 6pm I was upstairs on my laptop doing some work and Mally was in the spare room on his Xbox. I received a phone call from my neighbour telling me to go outside as the rain was starting to pool outside my house. There is also a beck/river across the road from my house and it was looking very full.

I ran downstairs and immediately saw water coming in through the front door. We immediately ran and got the flood gates to put on the front door and gates. We also hold the flood gates for several of my neighbours as well. I went over to the beck to check. It was starting to rise rapidly. I immediately contacted the council for sand bags. They said they would come as soon as possible but were trapped in Redcar a few miles away as all the roads were now blocked.

A full looking beck

The water began to rise and we were bucking water out of the front of the property. Numerous people came to our assistance to help us and our disabled neighbours. The flood gates were old and my neighbour desperately tried to fill in the gaps using poly filler.

It looked like we might keep it at bay at first

I then noticed water pouring through the back door as well. The flood gates were already up but it wasn’t enough to stop it. It was still raining heavily and the drains had nowhere to drain to as the beck was filling fast.

The rear garden. Now filling with water.

My sister and brother in law arrived to help. We bucketed water out of the property for three hours. A gentleman appeared at our door who I’d never seen before with a bilge pump. We attempted to stop the flow of water through the house. Even the local councillors came and were bucketing water. We tried everything, even trying to use large bags of animal feed and hay to try and create a dam.

My sister and I had now realised that water was now entering the living room rapidly. But it wasn’t coming through the front door anymore. It was coming up through the floorboards.

Just as the water was starting to enter. It then became a big problem fast as more entered shortly after this photo.

The water had suddenly risen massively and within two to three minutes it was over the top of my Wellington boots. I rang the fire brigade and they said they were on their way. I didn’t know at the time as I was inside the living room that the beck had breached and now thousands of gallons of water was on its way into my house.

The lights went off as the water reached the plug sockets. I had readied cages for my cats and house rabbit who were all upstairs. I hadn’t expected to need it as it appeared before the breach that we would be ok. We were now in darkness and I ran outside to see that the beck was now throwing huge amounts of water into the street.

The breach of the beck
The beginning of the end

Mally went to move the cars. I shouted to Mally I needed to get the animals out. As I was shouting a lady appeared and said lets go in and get them. I warned her it was dangerous inside as all power was out and the water was now knee high. She didn’t care and came straight in. We both used our iPhone torches and went in. We found Susie and Lacey straight away on the landing and bundled them into carry cases. We then found the house rabbit Fonzie up in the loft. It was not easy, she had crawled into one of the narrow passages. Cagney my other cat had ran away. We couldn’t find her. We went back outside. The water had risen even further downstairs and it was a struggle getting through. The lady..Trish stood outside with my three animals, whilst myself and Mally went back inside to search for Cagney. We knew all the other animals in the woodland were safe as they were on a slope and it wasn’t flooded. In fact the water was coming down from the woodland and straight into my house.

We searched and searched for Cagney we just couldn’t find her in the dark. We knew if she went into the attic she would be fine as it was so high. As we were searching a voice came booming into the house telling us to get out now. It was the coastguard.

We went to the door and were told in no uncertain terms by a coastguard across the road from us to stay were we were to await rescue. I stood in my garden and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Within just a few minutes the pavement and road outside my door was turned into a raging torrent of water. There was nowhere to go. The back of the property was now under several feet of water and the rear flood gates were only just holding.

The end of road. My street had now become a raging river. This was taken just a minute or two before rescue by the coastguard

The coastguard lined up in a group of four holding onto each other. The lead coastguard had a long stick to poke on the water and they carefully made their way towards us. I climbed over the flood barrier and held onto the lead coastguard’s vest and then was surrounded by the other three coastguards and we made our way to safety. They then went back for Mally. We stood at the side of the road in quiet disbelief. A few hours earlier I had been sat in my bedroom without a care in the world and now my house was under water and my cat was missing. That lovely lady Trish had taken my animals to her house to look after them for the night. A true hero, I was a total stranger to her and yet she went into a dangerous house to rescue animals and then looked after them all night! It’s times like this that you realise that humanity, bravery and kindness are still alive and well.

We were directed to go to the White Horse Inn which had been opened to act as a rest centre for those involved in the flood. Although we are in lockdown due to COVID this was an emergency situation and the rules are able to change slightly in these circumstances. We stood outside the pub which was only a short walk away. The landlord came out and beckoned us straight in. He had lit a roaring fire and had put the football on the telly…my kind of place! We stood in front of the cosy fire. We had been stood in flood water for four hours by this time. I hadn’t even realised I was soaking wet and cold until now. The situation had been so intense that I hadn’t noticed.

We were then picked up by my sister and brother in law who had left just as the beck had burst. There was nothing more they could do by that point and I had told them to leave. We had a long drive to their house even though it is only around a five minute drive away. The roads were all flooded.

We made it to their address and changed clothing. I was given a hot water bottle and cup of tea. We then went to bed. Neither Mally nor I could sleep. It was restless night. I was worried about my missing cat most of all, I was worried about my woodland animals even though I knew they were safe. I was also very worried about what I would find in the morning……

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