The Flood

Shortly before five o'clock, the water reached the end of the garden.

            'Are you worried, Cai? It's come up so suddenly,' asked Georgina.

            'Not unduly, they must have closed the Burnham Barrier early.'

            Their neighbour, Gillis Aalders strolled out on to the wooden deck at the back of his house, beer in hand. 'Evening,' he called over and began throwing corn out into the back yard for his ducks.

            'We missed the news, Gil?' said Cai. 'Do you know what's going on?'

            'Yes. Seems the precipitation on the tops of the hills last night was heavier than expected. Doesn't combine well with High Tide does it? They've opened the sluices out of the Polden Polders, and diverted the flow so we get the flood instead!'

            'Thoughtful of them,' said Cai.

            'Bastards!' added Georgina.

            'We'll be alright,' said Gil taking a swig from his bottle.

            'Hope so,' said Georgina. 'I don't fancy getting swept down to Old Bridgewater.'

            'Neither do I,' replied Gil. 'We've got serious scouring under the Old Town Dike down there, but keep that to yourselves, we're working on it.'

            'How?' asked Cai, interested.

            'They've got tugs standing by.'

            'Tugs! How does that work?'

            'Carefully!' replied Gil. 'They'll be on twenty four hours a day, keeping the emergency buffering in place.'

            'Where'd they get enough fuel for that?' Georgina wanted to know.

            'Well, Georgina! Seems that unknown to the likes of me and my mates, they've been throwing together nukes up at the Blyth Shipyard. Three of these innovative little craft arrived before I came home tonight. I was as surprised as any. I'll be going back at two tomorrow morning to do an extra shift.'

            'Will you fix it, ok?' asked Cai.

            'No problem. It'll take a week or so of sustained effort. We'll have to lay in some glacial till, so the tugs will be moving that in too.'

            'Sounds amazing!' Cai was impressed.

            Gil shook his head. 'It's old technology now. It was old when my parents resettled here. Georgina! Stop looking so worried!'

            'I am. I feel like a fish out of water in this environment. I'm worried we'll be inundated in the end'

            'No chance! You're as safe as the folks in the houseboats over the other side of the river. In fact, probably even more secure.'

            'Good! We'll go in and have our supper then. See you Gil.'

            'She's a Pennine Girl,' remarked Cai as he turned to follow his young wife inside.

            'You'll both get used to it in time,' Gil re-assured him. 'Most newcomers get to love it here. Right! I'm off to bed.'


            By eight o'clock, the moon was full and the whole neighbourhood seemed to be gathering on their back decks and verandas. It was comfortable enough to sit out at that time of year providing you had a solar heater and a good jacket. There was a buzz of conversation and excitement in the air. Some teenagers were cavorting around in coracles inside the neighbouring marina, while the older children play tag on the special gardens raised on piles. They could run round the whole network of gardens via little bridges or even do a whole circuit of the estate if they wished by following the boardwalks over the canals at the front of the houses.

            Cai  and his wife came out again to check the level of the water. The florescent marker at the end of the now flooded side alley showed that it was higher than the devastating 2053 floods.

            Georgina still looked worried, so Gil's wife Annika came across the little floating bridge to sit with them.  She held a bottle in her hand. 'Have some wine. Oh, I suppose you can't in your condition, can you Georgie?'

            'She's considering murder,' laughed Cai.

            Georgina pouted defiantly, though inside she felt close to tears. 'It's nothing to joke about! The Estate Agent lied to us. She said the water never came above the 53 mark.'

            'They're all the same, these people,' commiserated Annika. 'Some things never change.'

            But perhaps she was wrong in this.  The Communities in this part of the 'Sinking Isles', traditionally looked out for each other, especially when it came to kids, the elderly and animals. There was very little crime either. The floodplain was, surprisingly a good place to live. It was beautiful too. The widened and deeply dredged river was dramatic in all seasons and moods and the vast willow woods at the higher points of the delta, were a most extraordinary sight and full of wildlife. After these, the land then gave way to reed beds, and finally, not far below the Lake Town of Parrett where they all lived, to salt marsh, where sheep and cattle now grazed on the samphire, sea lavender and course grasses in the summer season. It produced the sweetest of meat. the land had changed and adapted. Villages had been lost or moved, but in contrast to eighty years ago, there was a  living to be had in the area. The raised sea level enabled the safe farming of fish, especially now that the use of pesticides and industrial effluent had also been forbidden. (Even the production of polyester with its minute but clogging particles was outlawed!) The nuclear plant at Hinckley point further up the Bristol Channel had also been decommissioned. Government, had now learnt to value 'good science', especially following the tragic fracking scandal that had destabilised the large triangle of bedrock that stretched under the Midlands down to London and south Wales and killed thousands upon thousands by causing frequent earthquakes and water pollution. (As if there hadn't been enough water as the ice caps halved in size and the sea rose). Government had to take note too when the coastal bird populations failed to breed in the area surrounding all the new power stations and significant clusters of cancers caused infertility and other horrors in the local populations. Locally and nationally, people complained of the cold and the deprivations for years, until passiv housing replaced the inadequate homes that local councils had been forced by money hungry developers to build on floodplains and the demand for energy crashed. Everything and everyone had suffered, but interestingly, the poor who survived, proved the fittest to survive. They were the ones who took power and led the way into the future with every green technology that became available. No-one was getting rich anymore anyway. The people who rolled up their sleeves and physically 'got stuck-in' got their reward as civilisation became rooted in something real. Survival!


            This early spring night, in Parrett, the water was gathering around the houses, but the Citizens of the lake town were calm enough.

            'Keep an eye on the water level creeping up the flood marker, then see what happens,' Annika advised her young neighbours casually.

            As it finally reached the thick red line people suddenly started shouting, 'We're going up!' The neighbourhood echoed with one unified, rising sound of 'Ooooooooooooooooop' and the clinking of glasses. 

            Cai and Georgina had their arms around each other's waists as their little house, a popular Dutch design, began to float above its foundations with the gentle clank of the sewage tank rocking gently within its stays.

© Joanna Huckvale 2014

Joanna Huckvale

I have always enjoyed writing and concocting stories and poems and I would like to thank my mother for singing to me when I was young and showing me that it was natural to write things down. Telling impromptu stories to my kids when they were young was also fun.

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