I have been absent for so long that it is a wonder that anyone is still following me, but we have had a very eventful month, with far too much going on to write it all in one blog.
First we had the storm that I know you saw on TV in UK.
Then we had a wonderful two weeks in Ireland. I have spent the last few days sorting out some 500 photos, ready for a blog post and scrapbook.
Last week we both celebrated our birthdays, with a big surprise, and more style than we had anticipated. More about that another day.
But for today I am just going to talk a little about the storm. You might say that it is 'old news' now, and in many ways it is, but for a lot of people it will go on dominating their lives for weeks and months to come. It was also an event of some importance so I want it recorded in my blog so I can refer back to it at some time.
The rain started on the Thursday night. We brought the dogs in because they are afraid of the thunder and lightning, and then, although we were aware that it was raining heavily, we just drifted off to sleep and thought no more about it. When we woke up it was still lashing down and bouncing off the surface water in the yard. We had a big bucket standing on the outside sink and it was overflowing, so I realised that we had had a huge amount of rain over night. But because we had new flood drains put in the village when they built our new road a year or two ago, we were not fully aware of just how bad it had been. We stayed in all day but I have since seen a photo of the rambla that runs alongside our village, and it was a fast flowing river, something that an old man of the village told us he had not seen for twenty five years. The green zone at the back of us was also covered in water, but it mostly drained away by the next day.
That evening we set off to fetch Tom from the airport at Murcia because he was coming out to look after our animals while we were away. It was then we became aware of the damage everywhere. The worst storms had affected a band between where we live now and the village where we rented our first flat out here. We were turned away from the entrance to the toll road that we would normally take to the airport, (a bridge was washed away), so we continued along the motorway to take the longer non-toll route. The old road that runs along parallel to the motorway had been washed away in places and there was debris everywhere.
Other motorway exits were cordonned off, and then we found ourselves in a nose-to-tail jam that crawled along for a few kilometers, but when we got to the turn-off for my church at Huercal-Overa, the police sent us over the bridge and back the way we had come. (We later learned that a bridge alongside the motorway at Puertas Lumbreras had gone!) I shouted 'airport' to the police from the car window and they told us to go back and down through Cuevas. (I am including some place names as folk who have visited us will know where I mean). Beyond Cuevas we were again turned away from another entrance to the toll road, so we had to drive down to the coast at San Juan and on to Aguilas where we did eventually get on to the toll road and from there onwards it was plain sailing. Power lines and phone lines were down, and there was no mobile signals so we couldn't let Tom know what was going on, but he went to the cafe and waited patiently and eventually we got there to collect him, just under an hour late. Of course we then had to take the same long route in reverse to get home.
The next day we tried to get to the supermarket at Vera but again we were faced with road closures. This area was the worst hit, and it is where one English lady lost her life, drowned in flash-flood water. Ten people died altogether and some 4,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.
Here is flood water up to the top of ground floor windows at Bougainvillea roundabout, and the next two photos show the kind of devastation that was left behind when the water subsided. I took the one above when we were turned away on Saturday morning.
Our friends who live up at Zurgena were completely cut off because every road from their village was washed away. They have now opened the main one, but the others will be fairly low on the priority list. The motorway is now open with contra-flows operating in several places where the outside lane is not safe because it has been undermined by water. The entire landscape has changed in places. Money is in short supply for the repairs, but they are drawing up a priority list and eventually it will get done. But it will be months, or years, if at all, before everywhere is back to how it was.
We thank God that we were unharmed, but our hearts go out to friends and all those who lost family members, their homes, their livestock, and those who are still struggling to rid their homes and land of the sticky mud and debris that the flood water carried.
Three of the above photos are my own. The other four are courtesy of Spectrum, our local radio station's facebook page, supplied by other followers. Social network pages such as forums and facebook were the one way we could send out information on which roads were safe, and which should be avoided. I published our sucessful route to the airport because every day someone needs to get there.