That was the year that was: June 2007

June arrives and I’m still drowning in work, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s still raining so I don’t feel I’m missing out on much – normally I’d want to be spending time outside at this time of year. Some areas in South Yorkshire have flooded, we feel some sympathy when we see this on the local news, we fail to realise how real this will become in a few days time.

It keeps raining. Everything is saturated. School is littered with buckets and bins catching the water in the many places where the roof leaks. Even I’ve passed my rain threshold. Make it stop. It doesn’t.

My school is at one of the highest points in Sheffield, but during a meeting I look out of the window and notice that our field is saturated, the rain is lying on the surface because there is nowhere else for it to go. This should have made me realise that things were not good. Before I leave someone tells me the roads are flooded. Damn. I plan a route home that sticks to high ground as far as possible, but I still end up unexpectedly fording the River Sheaf.

My journey seems quite bad at the time (an hour compared to the usual 25 minutes), but it is nothing compared to what has happened to other people. I watch the news and am amazed to see familiar streets under water, people being airlifted from buildings and hear that someone has drowned crossing the road.

My Mother rings up, understandably worried. I answer the phone making bubbling noises and pretend to be under water. She is not amused.

Mr TLC tells me he has had an exciting day at work. They spent most of it watching the river rise steadily up from its normal level 3 metres below the factory, then into the factory. At first Mr TLC and his co-workers were given brushes and mops and required to brush the water away! No one, apart from the managers who decided they should do this, was surprised when this didn’t work. Eventually the water started to reach knee height and everyone was sent home. As it turned out, this was a lucky escape; a torrent of water several feet deep swept through the factory shortly afterwards, wrecking everything in its path. People in nearby buildings are marooned on upper floors.

The following day there are scenes of devastation: rippled mud covers the roads, there are dead fish on the pavement, abandoned cars have tide marks showing just how bad things got. Mr TLC leaves the post of engineer and takes up the post of mud shoveller.

Back at school there are mixed feelings: some students are disgusted that we aren’t closed (despite the fact that we weren’t flooded); some are excited at being at the centre of a major news event; many students are upset at the death of Ryan Parry, a local boy who was a student at a nearby school, who drowned tragically on his way home yesterday.

Mr TLC turns 50 and we clear off to Eskdale in Cumbria for the weekend. We drive there through more torrential rain and are alarmed at the improbable looking clouds that resemble a special effect from an episode of Dr Who. On Saturday, the weather is fine, a little overcast, but dry. We walk, sit in pubs, ride on La’al Ratty, take a few photos and generally make the most of it. As we get in the car to return home on Sunday it starts to rain again. How lucky was that?


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