Sunday, 22 July 2007

Waterlogged and trapped in Wantage

Friday, 20th July. Having received no reply from daughter number 3 regarding my possibly picking up her two little boys from school for end of term break, I jumped in the car and raced down to Wantage to be at the school gates by midday. Rain emptied from the dark grey skies in skip-loads forming large puddles and lakes on the way. An ambulance sped by, sirens going and I lost coverage of my mobile phone. Daughter number 3 was at home, happily cleaning and singing away - her phone switched off - she'd taken the day off work and had forgotten that I was on standby to fetch the boys; never mind; the kettle went on, the biscuits came out and we chatted until time to walk around to the school gates, not noticing the torrential rain outside.

It was at this point that we noticed the little stream outside was brimming over and that we couldn't cross the road to the school without being up to our ankles in water. The lollipop lady was threatening to resign and mums in T-shirts and flip-flops were not amused either. We all ran back home, stipped off and changed - surprisingly I managed to fit into my daughter's size 8 trousers (I'm normally a size 12) therefore, I must have shrunk in the rain!

We lunched, watched 'Loose Women' chatted and talked to the boys, had more tea, and then I looked out of the window. The front lawn was now a lake with the bird table much shorter with a young squirrel perched on top wondering what to do with his nuts. We looked out onto the back lawn, which was an even bigger lake. We opened the side door to see a river running past. I said something along the lines of "ooh er", while my daughter preferred Anglo Saxon.

I decided it was time I went home and my daughter had to deliver the two boys to their father at Winchester for the weekend. We set off in different directions but immediately came to a halt as there were broken down cars and huge ponds of water in both directions. We couldn't get back to the house either because of broken down cars, ambulances and police trying to get by to set up road blocks. Mobile phone: we met at a place we both new on higher ground and planned another route - over the hills at the back of Wantage - sounded a good idea at the time. For the next 2 hours we tried and failed, and tried again to get out of the Wantage area. By now, there were many abandoned cars who'd tried to drive through what they thought were shallow puddles, only to end up abandoning cars. Driving on through water, hoping the cars would make it we eventually found a route back to my daughter's house and that's where I stayed.

Meanwhile, a phone call from my daughter's partner described the hell on the M4 and that he didn't think he would get home that night. He eventually arrived and we watched the news and the utter destruction and chaos around us.

The next day I arrived home via a long route along the now re-opened A34 and M40 to find my street had suffered badly, as did my neighbour's car. I was so thankful that my family had not endured anywhere near the loss of home and belongings that others had and for whom I truly felt for and sympathised with.

Note: To all those in 4x4 cars and people carriers who thought they could steam past, up to their armpits in water, grinning like cheshire cats at their perceived superiority, who's vehicles then broke down, (and I saw several) - I say "Pride comes before a Fall", however my daughter put it better in Anglo Saxon.