Monday, March 8, 2010

The flood

I woke up to a strange sound. Well more of an absence of sound. It had stopped raining, and given that it had been raining for the past 4 days the sudden silence had woken me. I could tell that it was close to dawn from the light coming around the curtained window, and I was curious what the world now looked like after the rain.

We'd been couped up inside while it rained and given it was a longer weekend than normal thanks to the celebration of the worker, we had avoided going outside after the initial storm which had left those caught in it with bruises and lacerations and many pets and livestock in a state of panic, thanks to hail stones the size of apricots. Since then going to work was hampered by the amount of water falling from the sky, it would ease off, but then start in earnest again, constantly drumming against the roof, ground and fences. The neighbourhood buckled down and waited for it to end.

Now that it was silent, I quickly dressed, found shoes that would cope with the mud I knew I would find and stepped outside. The rising sun had broken through the clouds and watery light painted a sodden and shiny world. I stepped outside and almost slipped in the mud outside my house. Other neighbours were also peering through their doorways, looking at the world.

I smiled at Farouk and suggested that we might be able to work today and he laughed, pointing at the clouds behind my house. I turned and sighed, the sky behind me was black, promising more solid rain.

I noticed that there was something different about the area, not just the water pooling on the road and around the houses, something had changed, and then I realised what it was. The creek that ran by our neighbourhood was running at the top of its embankment. This in itself was quite impressive, the embankment is 5 metres higher than the creek normally and now it was running full. More rain was likely to cause the creek to flood which was going to cause problems for us. I pointed at the creek and the smiles that had been present due to the cessation, no matter how brief, of the rain faded and everyone turned grim.

More rain was going to cause everyone problems, particularly if it kept raining like it had for the past 4 days, our neighbourhood would be flooded and many of us had nowhere else to go. I walked over to the creek and watched the torrent of water flowing, carrying branches and other debris downstream.

As I turned to walk back to my house, a bright flash lit the ground and a loud crack of thunder quickly followed. I watched as everyone disappeared back into their houses, and I walked as quickly as I could back to mine, trying my best to not slip over in the mud.

Once inside I made myself and the others some breakfast. The household stirred and groggily walked into the kitchen and helped themselves to food. We sat and listened to the rain begin again, punctuated by thunder and the whines of scared animals. Much more rain and we would run out of food as our stores were depleted. Travelling to purchase more food was too dangerous on flooded streets.

Some hours later I noticed a small trickle of water coming under one of the doors. I pulled back the curtain and saw that rising flood waters were covering our street. We moved furniture on top of other furniture, trying to limit what would get damaged and attempting to keep ourselves and everything we needed dry. The water continued rising, and soon we were wading chest deep. We didn't know what to do, and argued about climbing onto the roof and sitting in the falling rain for help that did not seem to be coming or staying in the house and hoping that the water would recede.

The rain continued and the water kept climbing. We were forced onto the roof, and we sat there soaked and shivering while watching the water climb higher and higher. We knew as the rain kept falling and the waters rising that we would not survive the night.

One by one we lost footing on the house and were pulled away into the darkness.

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