Sunday, 10 August 2014

Water, water, everywhere...

We knew the weather was a bit rough on Friday. It had started raining at 1pm and then the sky turned to lead, everywhere.  Distant tree boundaries in this flat landscape became obscured in the entire 360 degree panorama and down it came. A vertical fog of the hardest rain I've seen since my days in Germany, where rain even harder was a commonplace, but lasted rarely longer than half an hour, when it would just turn off and an hour later the streets were magically dry.
But on Friday, it just went on and on and on. It stopped for a while at 11pm, then begun again at 3am and finally stopped at about 5 or 6am.
My wife called me out of bed at 8 to see what had happened.
This had happened whilst we slept fitfully.
This is not a lake, it's a sheep field.  Part of the water on the right is a dyke about 12 feet wide and 8 feet deep. It's in there somewhere.  Part of a "critical" drainage system in the Fens designed to keep us safe. Pumped, sluiced, damned, monitored and controlled at every minute of the day. To drain and keep drained land owned by some huge corporations.  Otherwise we'd be Somerset.
Here is the same dyke that I recently showed empty and inhabited by bamboo-like grasses waving in the sunshine.
Last week it was empty.

By 9am on Saturday we noticed the level was rising, despite the day being glorious breezy sunshine.  I removed my car just in time. Fortunately it has a highish exhaust outlet and by driving VERY slowly outwards, I escaped, to park it outside the landlord's house at the farm, high and dry.  There it remains as , although the levels with 2 days of concerted drainage channel digging and borrowed pumps and hours of sweeping and even shovelling the water over the crown of the lane to the same landlord's field which is lower than us and un-waterlogged, we have managed to stabilise the level, but not before the house was flooded.  Due to the lopsided attitude of the old (1812) house the left  corner of the lounge is sufficiently lower than the rest to make for a 2 square yard droop in which 4" of water came up under the already broken concrete floor.
By about 5pm today with the help of some of the son-in-law's cycling friends, we got the level down to where the house is now without loose water and may dry out, but the rest of the drive and front garden goes half way up our Wellies.  The dyke is now about 6" down and the man from the Inland Drainage Board assures us we won't believe the speed with which the big pumps at Smeeth Road and St. Germans will drop it still further.  But at nightfall, there was no evidence of that speed in any respect.  St. Germans has been recently rebuilt with pumps that can shift 3990 tonnes of water a minute!  He also told us that that much rain, measured at 4-5", dumps 500 tons of water per acre, only half of which the soil can cope with.
And this is mid Summer!


  1. Oh, dear, so sorry to see this. How is your workshop, was that flooded too??

  2. No, Iain, that is up on blocks and was about 18" clear, thank heavens. The water has now receded, the dyke has gone down about a foot and the lounge is drying out now. Insurance visitors next!

  3. I am so very glad your workshop was OK, but how awful that the water got into the house. Hope you don't have too much grief from those verminous insurance folk, and that the damage inside the house isn't too grim.

  4. Thanks for your concern, Iain. The damage was confined to the corner of the lounge as the house(1912) is a bit "like Jack built" in that one corner is lower than the rest of the floor, so carpet and some plastering should be all it requires.