It began to get dark at 4.20pm, Daniel decided to walk to get his son, three miles away, I said, “Let me drive you,” He replied, “No, I’ll be OK.” And off he went in his little, thin summer jacket and cap. Daniel’s girlfriend Claudette was painting the Lounge at her home and baby Darius my grandson was at one of her friend’s house, so the paint fumes wouldn’t harm him.
It went even darker, and then it started to rain, and it rained, there was lots of thunder and lightning! It was quite scary. I tried to be brave, I didn’t want to eat, I didn’t want to use the knife and fork, I didn’t want to use the foil, or put the stainless-steel kettle on, I didn’t want the telly on, or to use my phone, in fact the lightening had lit up the sky hours before it rained, I was hoping it would not come near, but came it did, and it felt like with vengeance!
The huge drops of rain poured out of the sky, everyone had to sit up and take notice, it poured in from under our front door, not that it was deep but the deluge was SO much the front door couldn’t cope, Paul brushed the rain back outside. I rang Daniel and said, “Let me drive over to where you are,” For he’d not yet arrived to where Darius was. His reply was the same, “No, I’ll be OK.”
I’d seen lightning and thunder before but this was unusually, heavy rain, prolonged loud claps of thunder and very bright over head lightening, I’d heard from Claudette that Daniel was now walking back the three miles with his baby son, only six months old! I said to Claudette, “I’ll drive and meet them,” She replied, “No, his car seat is here at home,” I said, “Can’t Daniel hold him in his arms?” She said, “No,” I said, “I’d drive extra careful, her reply was, “No, it’s not safe.” The Heavens continued to open wide!!! My Son and Grandson was in this, very bad storm!!! They would both be drenched! How would his little pram cope? Paul had already told him before he’d left, “Don’t go near trees and don’t walk in open spaces.” To be honest, I’d have been scared to death driving in it, for fear of been struck! It was like a horror movie and we were all in it!
The at last at 6pm Claudette text me to say, “They have just arrived at my flat.” I text back, “Thank God!” I then asked, “Is Darius wet?” Claudette replied, “He is completely dry!” Mothercare ought to be commended on that little pram with its rain cover. For the pram to withstand all that rain, is just amazing! Daniel was soaked to the bone, I asked Claudette to, “Tell him to get out of his wet things,” For the Daniel I know, in the past has kept his wet things on, till they have almost dried! But thankfully, this been not normal rain, he’d changed into dry clothes.
The storm had lasted for four hours, it was hail, heavy rain, massive bright lightening and very loud claps of thunder! Then it stopped. I said to Paul, “I bet the road at the bottom of our road had flooded!” For it always floods when we have a lot of rain.
Only then did I eat my dinner, and the dog too, she’d not eaten hers, but now she’d eaten hers.
I’d completely forgotten that Megan had wanted me to drop her off at her friend’s house for 9pm. I’d been SO stressed out and was looking forward to relaxing and possibly kipping on the sofa.
She was dressed in a little top, trousers and high heels, no coat. She had brought her ticket for the night club, they were all going to meet at her friend’s house and from there the limousine would take them to the night club.
The friend, Louisa only lived one mile done the road. So, we got in the car and suddenly there ahead under the bridge a police car blocking the road and behind the police car was a river! Cars too was broken down in it! So, I turned around as did everyone else and at the roundabout turned left and went up the road but halfway up the road there was another river! No kidding it was like two feet or deeper! Cars here was broken down too, all the time I’ve lived in the Town I’d never seen anything like this.
Now we didn’t know where to go next so I put the Sat Nav on, on my phone and it took us to the other side of Town. I went down a road I knew a little bit enough for me to know, the other side of it would be near Louisa’s at the other end, but here too in the middle of the road was a deep river maybe three feet deep or more, it was surreal, and here vehicles of all sizes had broken down in it! Why would drivers go through it? So, like everyone else we turned around. I really wanted to go home now. But like Daniel, Paul and myself Megan is stubborn! She said, “When you turn around, turn right at the bottom of the road then right again and that road will get us to near Louisa,” I told her, I’d put petrol in today and now I was using it all up!”
I drove down a dark narrow, road with no street lights, no paths, no cars it was horrible. After driving for about five minutes I saw light, cars, some houses and cars, with its occupants possibly thinking of crossing the deepest river I’d seen tonight! I said to Megan, “There’s no way I’m going through that!” She started to cry and said, looking at my mobile with the map that was in her hand, “Louisa’s home is just there, the other side of the water!” I said again, “I’m not going through the water, it’s far too deep, I’m going home!” She shouted at me, “I’m going to walk there then!” I said, (not dressed for three feet of water) well I’ll have to get out and walk with you!” She got out the car and shouted it again, “I’m walking to her house!” Two young women was by my car and heard her and said, to her wearing their wellies, “You can not walk through there, you will get drenched!” Thank God she listened to them. We waited till it was safe and our turn and we turned around. Others had cancelled too, unable to get to the girl’s house. It did sadden me that Megan was willing to walk on her own, in the dark, through deep waters to get to her friend’s house, she didn’t seem to value her own safety or life! To me it seemed all that mattered to her was pleasing her friend and getting to her house at any cost!
Louisa, said to her, “Wait by Morrison’s and if the car can drive past there, then it can pick you up,” So I drove to Morrison’s and we waited in the car, this was NOT how I planned to spend my day off! It was while we waited I told her, “I want £5 when we get home for all the petrol I’ve used tonight.” Strangely she didn’t reply. After forty-five minutes of nothing, Louisa told her, “The car won’t be going by Morrison’s.” So, we went home, as I pulled up and parked she pulled out of her purse and gave me £10 that was amount I’d put in. It still didn’t make up for the sleep I’d lost on the sofa! But I was thankful for it. All the roads were bone dry except by the ‘rivers.’
The next morning the main news was one story, all day even when I saw the news on the telly 10pm at night, a man in his 80’s had drowned in his camper van at the bridge one minute from my home! How was that possible? The rains had stopped. That bridge is big enough for double decker busses, and other huge trucks, drive under it daily. It was sad, we all wanted to know who he was, and what was he doing driving at 2am?
As information filtered through via news on the telly and newspapers it turned out two men tried to help him one swam to him and tried to break the window of his car with a hammer and then when he did, he held his head above the water, but as I read, the next day in the paper, his head was already under the water for five minutes, by the time the ambulance, fire crew and boat arrived!
Everyone was in shock, for the loss of life so near to us and that our little Town was on the news for all of the day. We all knew the storm was very bad no one in my Town could exaggerate the fact that it was dreadful!!! But who was the man? How old was he exactly? Where was he from? What was he doing out at 2.am? There were SO many questions and no answers.
The next day, there was NO water under that bridge! I wished I’d took the time to video some of the four different rivers I’d witnessed the night before, but I didn’t, the sight of it all will be in my memory for life! But, if I’d not gone out, I wouldn’t have known that floods were all over the Town, a little one at the bottom of my road, yes nothing like what I saw. And the strangest thing, if anyone had said to me in the morning, “Today, someone is going to drown, trapped in their car on the main road, one minute from your home,” Myself and no one else would have believed them! But that’s exactly what happened.
A few days later, we were still talking about it, as no other information was released about him, his family had been informed of his death, so we assumed they didn’t want his name to be known. Megan has asked me, “The rain had stopped, so how come it went SO high?” I replied, “I assume, it was like a huge dish, where the road dips under the bridge and the amount of water that had fallen and had to then go downwards, filling up the ‘dish’ and raising the water level to the top of the bridge.” If only he’d turned around, go to a hotel nearby, for within six hours or less, the waters would have been gone! And he would have been safe at home and alive.
Two days ago, I was on my way to MacDonald’s, and as I approached the bridge where he’d died, I looked either side to see if I could see flowers I could see nothing, I wondered if I’d got the wrong bridge? But no, for on my return from MacDonald’s there it was on the right-hand side, two small bouquet of flowers. I assume they were left by the two men who desperately tried to save his life. I said, to those I work with, and family, “I don’t think he was from round here, I think he was a visitor passing through, trying to get home.” They agree too, for no one here knows who he is. The river must have been to the top of the bridge, yet he risked his life and tried to drive through it. What an awful way to go, may his soul rest in peace.