Although I live within a mile of a river bank, I never expected to be effected by the recent heavy rain and floods that we have suffered over the past few weeks. I have lived in the same area for almost eight years. We have seen rain come and go and there have been times when the river has risen exceptionally high, but until now we have always escaped any flooding.
The weather had been bad for some days but on one particular night I remember being kept awake by the high winds and heavy rainfall. Even still, when I woke up one Sunday morning and went into my basement I was astounded to see about six inches of water on the floor. We use the basement as a storage and utility room and as a result of the water; our washing machine and electric supply had all shut down.
It was very upsetting at first but later when I watched the news, I realised how lucky we were. There were people in the country that had been affected far worse than we had been.
The cleaning up process
My family and I started the cleanup process immediately. The first thing we had to do was make the electricity supply safe. Because it was a basement without much natural light we had to use torches. My little girl had never experienced flooding before - in fact neither had we - but to children it can be very distressing. To make as light of the situation as we possibly could we switched on torches, pulled on our wellington boots and waded into the water with our buckets. My daughter also wore a work helmet with a torch attached which she found most amusing. We had to take the water up one level to the kitchen and empty it out into the garden.
The water was cold and dirty and the smell was unpleasant, but anyone who has experienced flooding, however minor, will tell you that it's up to you to clean up afterwards. It's a slow and depressing job. Even though I kept reminding myself that we were physically unharmed, I still couldn't help thinking about the damage that had been done to our property.
When the majority of the water had gone, we moped up and just waited for things to dry out. In fact we are still waiting. The washing machine will have to be replaced and the original Victorian floor ties are ruined. We have been able to switch on the electricity.
Naturally we contacted our home insurance company. As home owners we have always ensured that we have fully comprehensive cover. I was mortified to learn that we were not covered. It's my fault. When I took out the policy I remember being asked if I live within two miles of water. It was the first time I had been asked that question. I answered it truthfully but did not realise that it meant that they would not cover me for flooding. Luckily I did have a policy with British Gas http://www.britishgas.co.uk which covered plumbing, drains and electrics. One of our drains had to be unblocked and they also checked that the electrics were safe. As a precaution, we built a false floor to raise the level of the washing machine and electrical equipment off the ground.
I know that we are very lucky. The damage that we suffered has been minimal. I still enjoy living near the river but I am more wary of the weather forecast and a little more anxious when I hear it's about to rain.
I will definitely think about which insurance policy I choose next time. I may even think about taking out extra cover in case of floods. I will also ring any potential insurers and ask them directly if I am insured for such emergencies because sometime the small print can be all too confusing.
I found some good tips and advice online from charity organisations such as shelter. http://england.shelter.org.uk
I am keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't happen again but if it does, then I do feel a little more prepared, but all the same: fingers crossed!