Next morning at 4am, David went out to get the cows. I was up at 5am, to feed the cats and settled down to do bible study, prayers, and drink my morning cuppa.
At 7am David came to the house to tell me that he and Craig thought that there had been a breach in the stop-banks further up the river, because they had received a call from someone further up Parewanui Road, to say that it was coming down the road.
I didn’t understand. I asked, “What’s coming down the road?”
His reply, “The river is.”
Well, what can I do?”
He told me to get all of our animals inside. We only had 3 old cats and one dog. As calmly as I could I gathered our pets, into the house, all but Evie, who had insisted on running across the road to the school yard. I left her, she would be safe there if something untoward occurred. There was ‘not’ water yet, but everything was deathly still.There was a certain ominousness in the stillness of the air, as though the world were waiting for something to happen.
When I first saw the water, it didn’t come sweeping in – it came quietly, just a trickle. It must have come through the culvet first, but the volume built up until it had overflowed and finally burst the culvet open, creating a 12 metre wide gash in the road, then proceeded to trickle off in other directions, creeping into the fields behind the two houses. It was about 8am when I saw that the culvert was suddenly not there anymore, and that a vast volume of water was carving it’s own path across the road. It had flattened the neighbours fence then struck the walls of their house finally flying up, over the roof, buckling the spouting and roofing iron. Fortunately the neighbours had had time to rescue much of their stuff and move out into the empty school building just across the road from our house. The by now, rapidly moving water, had carved out a new river bed 6ft beyond our water tank, on the south side of the house Thankfully we were not being threatened by that body of water. I know I had said that I wanted to live by a river, but THIS was ridiculous!
It was a very methodical flood. It slowly filled up the two x twenty acre paddocks behind the neighbours house, before it even looked at the 2 x twenty acres paddocks behind our place. I had tidied my house, made the beds, straightened everything – passed the hoover (vaccum cleaner,) over the lounge, dining and kitchen floors, and as soon as the water started seeping into the fields, I put the plug into the bath tub and turned both taps on full-bore. Some kind of survival instinct told me that if we were going to be caught in a flood, we would need clean water to flush toilets with, and to wash ourselves in. Fortunately, we already had three x twenty litre containers of drinking water. (Since we had lived in Whangaehu, we had bought drinking water from the Crystal Valley Well – because Wanganui water was totally undrinkable.) We had continued to buy water from the well even after we had left the Wanganui area, because I needed to!
After I had organised the house, I suddenly thought, “I want to make it as difficult possible for a flood to ruin the stuff in my home – so I began loading all the tables and benches with, the TVs, the DVD, VCR, books, tapes, crockery sets from my china cabinet. my sets of champagne glasses, red wine glasses, liqueur glasses, my pottery pieces, jugs, vases, lamps. Every high surface was covered with stuff. In my linen cupboard – I lifted everything on to the two top shelves. I rolled all of our entire bedding, electric blanket and all and put it in top of the double wardrobe, all our clothes which were on hangers, I poured into 2 large plastic rubbish bags and tied them to the hanger-bar in the wardrobe. When I had done all that I could do. I sat at the table in the lounge and watched the paddocks fill with water while I tried to paint a picture of my sunflowers before they were covered by the creeping tide. I walked out on to the front deck where it had begun to drizzle with rain, there was quite a strong wind blowing.The road in front of the house was full of water, and it had found a low place between the toi-toi bushes on the fenceline of our section and now it was seeping into our yard. David came flying across the higher paddocks on the bike and asked me if I was OK. He went through the house and approved all that I had done. We had coffee,(I had made up a flask of hot, strong coffee for us,) and he told me that the power had gone out at the sheds and all the phone lines were out.
I went to my handbag and pulled out the cellphone which Sonya had sent to me, just before we had left Ballance to go to Whangaehu. She had said at the time, “Just in case something happens, Mum!” I gave it to David. He turned it on and there were 3 messages waiting, all from Sonya.
We called her to let her know that we were OK, – apparently we were on the National News. We asked her to call Davids’ mum and let her know that we were OK, and I would call Nanny, (my mum) to let her know that we were OK, also. She was so anxious,
but I told that I’d call her if we needed to be evacuated. As we waited, we stood out on the deck watching the fields and our yard, begin to fill with water. I have to admit, that panic had gripped me a number of times but I kept thinking, ‘it’s going to be OK’. We were all in this together, because everyone on this side of that 12 metre wide gash in the road, was stuck! This was the only road route in and out!
to be continued…. – Emmi