Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The river wild

I live on a bluff next to an ancient ruined castle overlooking a valley through which a river runs idly out to the nearby sea. I get up each morning and make a cup of tea then wander into the living room and sit opposite the big french windows to the balcony, enjoying the swans and ducks bobbing about on the water... sometimes at this time of year there is snow on the far off mountains. That is my morning routine.

One of the perks of working from home is that you can start your day when you are ready and yesterday I remained in bed much later than usual with a bad headache. My curiosity finally got the better of me when I heard a lot of noise below the bedroom windows, facing out into the narrow dry stone wall edged street and opened the curtains to see a farmer and some neighbours herding about 100 sodden sheep along the street and up past the castle. The only way they could have come would have been over the tiny Victorian arched bridge and through the bottom of the High Street... which seems an unusual route to take livestock.

Slightly puzzled I walked into the kitchen, the steamed up windows blocking my usual tranquil view and almost dropped my cup of tea a few moments later when I walked into the living room and got the full effect of what was happening outside through the big french windows... the river was swollen to about 4 times it's normal size and was running very fast out to sea carrying all kinds of debris along. The angry water was hitting the little Victorian arched bridge full force and kind of whirling around to try and get under the single stone arch. The bit that freaked me out was that there were still a few cars crossing the bridge and loads of people stood on it watching the water crashing just a few feet below them.

Not long after the road and bridge were closed as the water carried on rising and Police helicopters flew overhead with loud hailers telling everyone to get off the bridge immediately and get onto higher ground.

I heard on the radio that the next town along the river , St Asaph had already been evacuated and tragically an old woman's body had been found in a flooded house. The sky had a thick covering of gunmetal grey clouds the whole day and the people I spoke to were prepared for emergency evacuation if it started raining again. I wouldn't need to be evacuated as my home is so high above the river, but the hotel/restaurant and holiday complex across the bridge were soon under several feet of water. The river has burst it's banks and even now, 24 hours later, all the neighbouring fields are lost under water, the tops of hedgerows and trees poking up from the grey surface, stoically waiting for the levels to drop. Of course it was a full moon so the tides were  at their height too. Thankfully the forecast rain never happened but today the clouds are still so low and ominous I don't think we are out of the drama-zone yet.

Despite the flood warnings that had been broadcast the previous night, this all took me by surprise. Yes, we had torrential rain and really high winds all day Monday, and throughout the night - but that is pretty much how the weather has been all Summer - now it's Autumn, it just seems like more of the same!  I guess we just finally reached saturation point, quite literally.


Janet Ghio said...

The color in the first photo is just beautiful.

C said...

The difference in those photos is shocking! Every now and then nature reminds us just how insignificant we are in its force, eh. Hope it's all returning to normal now...
And you do have a beautiful view!

Yve said...

It's amazing that just 48 hours on and the river is back to it's usual tranquil self and the fields have all drained off. We think we own this place but we are just sitting tenants who could be evicted at any minute! ;o)

Alison Rasmussen said...

Oh my goodness--your photos are amazing. Sort of beautiful and terrifying at the same time.