I did get the children back home on Saturday night, thankfully, as the waters steadily rose through the night and by Sunday morning, when my neighbour and I waded through several mildly coursing creeks, we found that our road into the valley had started to resemble a 30 m wide raging river.
So Sunday was a bit of an adventure for the kids, and we gossiped and drank milo at our neighbours’ house. But by 4 pm, our ‘valley lock-in’ turned into a survivalist crash course. No power means no water, as I am not on town water, and need the pump to get water through the taps.
For meals I toasted bread in the frypan, boiled water for tea (which I desired every 10 minutes for some reason), and made a lot of rice. Normally I have a stockpile of UHT milk, but had none, and no fresh milk either. Sunday I had planned to buy food…. We had no fresh fruit and minimal veg.
For entertainment the kids
drove me mental with their constant fighting made puppet shows, played spotlight in the lounge, and tidied their bedrooms :). In the evenings we told ghost stories by torchlight, and R1 was especially good at throwing menacing shadows across the ceiling.
On Monday they started to pong, so I washed their bodies and hair in the sandpit. I was quite angry with R2 when he dumped sand in the water I was going to wash R1’s hair with, but I suppose he didn’t realise the stresses I was under to provide the barest necessities.
I am pretty sure that we could have had a lovely few days inside with no power, but trying to source water was my biggest worry. I put a water filter jug out in the rain which provided drinking water for some time, until the damn sun came out… I had buckets filled with water in the bathroom which we used for hand washing, then toilet flushing. I collected water from empty planters to boil for washing the dishes. Today was a gloriously hot sunny day which dried out all the mould which had already started to form, but oh my god I was thirsty. Thankfully we bathed in the neighbours’ swimming pool, which made all the difference.
I learned some very valuable lessons, and by the time of next year’s floods, I will have installed a tap in the side of my water tank, or a separate water tank for this purpose, and have a generator for the fridge.
But I think I will also leave the kids on the outside with their father, if possible. It entered my mind that of course, this would be the time of all times that the kids would probably need medical attention, and there was just no way of reaching the outside world, apart from a very long and arduous hike over the hill. At least down in the suburbs, while they may not have power, they have amenities, roads they can journey along, people they can visit, supermarkets they can shop in, and water that actually comes out of taps.
After the power came back on tonight, my first comment was, ‘what do we do with it?’. It had only been 48 hours but to all of us in the valley it had seemed like a marathon of back-to-back survivor episodes. I felt an affinity with ‘olden days’ women who made do and got on with the business of making our children stink less. I soon got over that, though, and embraced my new old life again.