Flood Rain

This past weekend I was returning from visiting Laura at ‘Wesley Care’ a Methodist hospital situated over in the Northlands area of Christchurch. If you didn’t already know this, it’s where Laura is currently a patient. When everyone who worked at Princes Margaret Hospital, had returned from their Christmas leave, they decided that they had taken Laura’s treatment as far as they were prepared to work on her, it was now time for her to go and seek somewhere where she could receive 24 hour care. We did this, and she was found a room at Wesley Care Hospital


On Sunday after visiting her. It was about 5-00pm, and there was some light rain falling as I left the Hospital. On looking around I could see nothing but towering Classic Cumulus Nimbus Clouds. Bad weather had been forecast, but in reality what I saw looked very ominous indeed, the sky was getting blacker and blacker by the minute. I could also see many lightening flashes coming from the clouds. This is another bad sign, and normally a precursor to heavy rain and hail. What happened to me next, was an under statement.


I had been wondering if I would make it home before the bad weather really got under way. Rain we badly needed but only when it’s the gentle kind, and means only a damping down. Heavy rain the kind you can get from CN clouds generally means, heavy rain that can come bucketing down and cause flash flooding and really serious bad weather. That was exactly what I ran into in when crossing the Center City. Waist deep water at intersections all in a matter of minutes. This caught many motorists unawares as one by one their cars ‘puttered’ to a stop in the deluge. Nobody it seems, had told them that the water on roads is the deepest alongside the gutters, and the shallowest part is on the crown which I clung to. Add to this situation, several dozen clowns that I encountered in their SUV’s driving around at high speed making huge bow waves. Behaving just like kids in their paddling pools. The authorities who arrived on the scene quickly, they were busy diverting cars to alternative streets, away from the deepest water. This only kept moving me further and further from where I wanted to go. I finally made Cashmere Hill to find sheets of water cascading down the roads and rafts of hail on the road side. I have no idea how much water dropped on the area in under an hour, but it must have been a couple of inches or more.


Laura and I had a similar experience that very nearly cost us our lives a few year back. We had been returning from Wanaka where we had been to attend a Bank Dinner. A hot dry day, we were driving along in the dusk, not a care in the world having enjoyed a great day out. That was until we reached Lowburn. A cloud burst up in the Mountains miles from we were, and several thousand feet above us as was about to change all that. It had sent down a huge wave of water and slurry which I drove into, unaware of it’s presence until I was it the middle of it. It was so thick and deep that our headlights couldn’t shine through, as it actually covered them. You could say I was up to my neck in trouble before I realised what was going on. It surprised me as it wasn’t even raining where we were. Laura didn’t help when she said, ‘There are trees going past my window’. We were being swept relentlessly towards the river, which was not far away, then the engine cut out. I said, ‘I have one more trick to try’, and I turned on the key which controlled the starter. This kept the car moving again albeit slowly, and hopping like a rabbit from time to time when the engine occasionally fired. I could also see the tail lights of a car who had also struggled through earlier, parked at the side of the road and it’s occupants were now watching our progress. I aimed for their tail lights and safety. The driver greeted us with the words when we struggled clear, ‘I thought you were going to be swept down the river, you were very lucky.’ We thought so too, but our number wasn’t up that day.


I was lucky on another occasion when out in the family’s dinghy off Purakanui with brother David and Tony Trotter. The sea was as calm as a mill pond and we were out at sea and ‘puttering’ along side the point with the cliffs towering above us, looking at the wild life perched there. I heard a strange whispering sound, and looking out to sea I was horrified to see a huge wave heading our way curling and preparing to break. Had it broken before it reached us, we would have been swept onto the nearby rocks and the boat turned into matchwood. I immediately turned on full throttle and headed for the wave and deeper water. We arrived there before the wave broke, the boat stood on it’s end when we met. Once over the top and surfing down the other side which seemed just as steep as the waves front, we half filled with water, but we had escaped. I once attended a course on boating where the lecturer in response to a question, said, There was no such thing as a rogue wave.

I thought, ‘Little do you know’. As far as we are concerned they do exist. Let your guard down and they can be deadly.


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