Saturday, November 21, 2009

Millennial rain

This week England has been swamped by torrential rains. They're saying it is the worst rain ever recorded. The highest parts of Cumbria in the Lakes District have have been hardest hit in riverside towns. BBC showed before and after aerial photos of Workington and Cockermouth. Before photos showed tidy towns on winding rivers surrounded by green fields. After photos showed brown water surrounding blocks of houses - no fields, no streets. Venice, but not so pretty. The rescue teams have been hauling people out of houses. Some had to break through their roofs and be hauled up by helicopter. Water filled the ground floors. A policeman directing traffic away from a dangerous bridge was swept away when it collapsed. It's expected to take a year before people will be able to live in their houses again. Not on a par with New Orleans after Katrina, but devastating, nonetheless, for the residents.

Locally, in the Furness peninsula, we haven't seen anything like that, but one low section of Ulverston did have water coming in the houses, ruining the ground floors. People cursed as a car drove through the watery street, its wake entering their houses.
This photo was taken on Monday, 3 days after the worst. We saw sheep in a submerged field, gathered atop the only dry spot.

We walked around town Friday - our only full day of sunshine in weeks. Two brooks run through town. Our car is parked near one called The Gill. The water was gushing down it, contained only by the stone walls. It's rather dismaying to realize that the brook goes underneath the town (photo below) , with barely 12 inches between water level and the viaduct ceiling. We found it farther downstream, where it shot out from under a house for about 10 yards before it went under another house. (shiver).

Dragley Beck (south side of town) on Monday, three days after the worst

With the recent downpours, the main road has been impaired by flooding. My bus on Thursday was stuck in a 2-mile backup for half an hour, as each car slowly made its way through a puddle up to the bumper.

I don't do umbrellas. Too clumsy (me, not the "brollie"). I'm usually juggling too many things to be able to successfully maneuver an umbrella also. Walking with another person presents another set of problems: pacing yourselves together, not catching the drip off the umbrella.

The long views I treasure here are not to be found when the clouds are down around our ears. Gray Skies 'R Us.

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