A Wet Candlelit Christmas On My Very Own Home Island
Candlelit Christmas On My Own Island
Have you ever spent Christmas on a your very own island surrounded by water with candles flickering in the night? I am sure you must be thinking it sounds like a romantic scene from some movie. The truth is far from that!
It is my very own island alright when my house is surrounded by three meters of flooding waters. With no electric supply candles provide a source of light and all this on Christmas Day. I wouldn't quite call it romantic but it was a truly memorable Christmas, one which my family have never forgotten.
Being stranded on the upper floor of the house was not how we planned to spend Christmas. But that was how we got to celebrate a very wet Christmas some years back with a turkey waiting for me to roast!
"Plug" The Exhaust Pipe - Stop the water from entering the car!
It is 8pm and the heavy rains seemed to have finally stopped. My neighbor advised us to stuff the exhaust pipe as the water level in the drains just outside the house seems a bit high. I am not sure whether this really works or not to prevent water from entering the car through the exhaust pipe.
It did give me a false sense of security so that I went to sleep without a worry. Or maybe I never thought my house would ever get flooded. After all we were living in an established neighborhood. How would we ever get flooded?
The "Bopping" Toilet Bowl
Not a good sign!
My husband likes to keep late nights and this was one occasion when I was more than glad that he was awake in the wee hours of the morning. (He likes to remind me of the advantages of staying up late whenever I grumble at his late hours).
As he was using the toilet he noticed that the water did not flush down the toilet. Instead it kept returning and was bopping up and down the toilet bowl. He couldn't understand what was happening until he went to switch off the lights. It was then he noticed that water was seeping in through the front door.
Yikes! Our house was going to be flooded!
Keeping The Night Vigil
My husband realized that we could be in for some serious trouble. So we kept vigil that night watching as the water rose higher and higher in our living room. Of course by this time we had moved whatever we could to the upper floor of our house. Thank the Lord we lived in a double storey house.
Though it had stopped raining, the waters continued to rise. By mid morning on Christmas eve the water level had reached the first landing. We tried to salvage as much dried food as we could. We were preparing for the worst possible scenario.
Whatever available living space upstairs was filled with our belongings we carted from the downstairs. We even brought our decorated Christmas tree upstairs with us.
Christmas Picnic - Bread and biscuits
The kids thought it was a great adventure. We were not in any danger so it was a very exciting experience for them. Since it was Christmas I had done my grocery shopping so we had lots of dried food. We had bread, biscuits, cookies, fruits, ham and cheese. Obviously, cooking was out of the question as the kitchen was submerged in water. There was no electric power supply and even if there was I am sure it was not safe to use it in these conditions.
The kids loved it when we ventured downstairs to the kitchen. They helped salvage as much food as we could when the water level was still low and safe enough for them to walk around.
Venturing into the kitchen also revealed others looking for higher ground. I had a nasty shock when we found a rat trying trying to find a safe haven in the kitchen cupboards. Well, I did not go down to the kitchen anymore after that.
Hey, we're here!
As darkness began to envelop the house and the whole housing area, we were glad we were safe in our house. In the darkness you couldn't see where the drains were now located. it was a whole expanse of water everywhere. It was certainly dangerous to venture outside.
My kids sighted a rescue boat from afar thinking they were coming our way. It was more like a wooden canoe but a rescue boat nevertheless. We waved and shouted but the boat did not come our way. Maybe they couldn't hear us or there were more urgent needs elsewhere. We were left to fend for ourselves. We had some candles which we used to provide us some light.
Aborted Christmas Party!
Those were the days when mobile phones were scarce so we couldn't contact anyone or find out what was happening.
It was Christmas eve and we were supposed to be going to a church cell group gathering that night. The turkey now totally defrosted was still sitting in my fridge. We hoped that our family and friends would not be too worried about us.
A New Day Dawns - Supplies replenished!
We all slept well that night though there was no electric power. The night was cool from several days of rain and hardly any sun. We were all safe and together so there was much to be thankful for even though half of our car was under flood water. So stuffing the exhaust with cloth was a total wasted effort!
The morning brought much cheer as we looked to a new day. My dad and brother managed to walk through the floods to bring us food and other necessities. They also updated us on the flood situation. Our neighborhood was in the news as the whole township was submerged in water. Not a great way to be in the news!
They brought along a portable stove which was certainly a welcome sight. We can even cook now some instant noodles now!
Taking The Kids To Safety! - Trekking through the flood waters
We decided that it was best for our three kids to stay with my parents. The water level had now receded and it was quite safe to walk through the flood.
The children thoroughly enjoyed the long trek to the entrance of the housing estate. We were each armed with a long stick to ward off any snakes swimming around! Pests were flushed out of their hiding places. Man and animal were all out to look for a dry place!
What a sight it was to see the cars all badly damaged by being submerged in the flood waters. Rubbish was strewn everywhere. Neighbors were looking dejected by the destruction caused by this disaster. No lives were lost so that was something to be thankful for.
Turkey Thrown Out! - Pests looking for food too
Well the Christmas party was understandably canceled. The turkey was thrown out with the rest of the perishable food from the fridge. Thankfully the fridge survived the flood and after a thorough washing down was serviceable again.
I discovered containers with food inside had chewed marks. Other creatures besides us were looking for food too! The thought of them running around in my kitchen gave me the creeps.
A Blessed Christmas
Many Christmases have gone and many more will come but I will always remember this particular Christmas. It reminded me of how God watched over my family. He kept all of us safe and we were only inconvenienced. It brought the neighborhood together as we looked out for each other during this distressful time.
We were also thankful that our car was not fitted with too many electronic gadgets as the cost of repair for some of my neighbors was astronomical. None of us had ever bought insurance to cover flooding situations! Well, we certainly corrected that oversight quickly.
Of course there were those who took advantage of the situation. As everyone's car was under water we were worried about how to start the car and get it running. Some enterprising mechanics went round to help start the engines ( for a fee of course ). They quickly earned their money as each house had one or two cars which needed their attention.
© 2011 Sue Mah