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The Eyebright Flood


It was well before sun-rise on Saturday morning when our dog started making the gulping noises that dogs make before they vomit.  I scooped her up and rushed down the stairs, making for the lawn.

Impending vomit was to be the least of my problems.  I nearly slipped over when I stepped off the last rung onto a floor.  It was covered in water.  “Oh my god” I shouted.   After depositing the dog, outside, I waded to the kitchen, then the bathroom, but couldn’t locate where the water was coming from. 

Our well is fifty meters away, so I ran out to it to turn off the pump. 

The shop is just the other side of a firewall, and water was halfway across the shop floor.

My early thoughts were, that I would need lots of mops and buckets.  The magnitude of the problem had not registered. 

My first call was to our insurance broker.   She told me to contact JAEs, the catastrophe people.  I also called 111, stressing that this was not a life-threatening emergency, but asking for assistance from the local fire department. 


At 6:30,  I texted our plumber.  I wrote: Hi Trevor: “Please call.  We have a huge emergency flood.  Can not locate source”.

Then I phoned Therese.

At some stage a fire truck turned up, but we agreed that they didn’t have gear for extracting shallow water.  I said I would make a donation to the local brigade, but the fireman said ‘no need. It’s what we do”.

Staff turned up with towels.

Tim, from JAEs, arrived soon after.  He quickly got down to it with a big vacuum. 

By mid-morning stock had been moved and shelving had been lifted onto bricks.  It was clear that recovery was to require time rather than activity.  With the exception of Therese (and her husband, John), extra hands were no longer required. 

Therese became our flood recovery champion.  She’s the one who said “why don’t we open for Christmas two days early and combine the clean-up with preparing the shop for Christmas.  I agreed instantly, and we set the challenging, but, doable date of Thursday the 6th.   Just five days away.

Tim worked non-stop for hours sucking up water.  Then he turned his attention to the unseen wetness; the stuff that wrecks carpets, wicks up walls, turns gib board to chalk, and particle board to Weet Bix. 

He made a trip back to JAEs HQ and returned with a van load of fans and dehumidifiers.  In full voice, the noise was like a jet aircraft.  

Soon after lunch, our plumber, had located the leak, and had cut open the fire wall to expose the culprit. 

That was a huge relief to me.  I had been on tenterhooks, plagued by thoughts of having to extensively damage the fire wall in the search of an elusive source.

The problem was an improperly fitted elbow bend.  For nineteen years, it had been waiting to let go.

For five days conversations had to be shouted.  We had to use subtitles to watch TV, and Annette lost her voice.

Annette is incredulous at how unfazed I seemed throughout.  No doubt, knowing that I had it covered by insurance enabled me to remain calm, but also I had a lot of blessings, they were:

* Not falling over and breaking something when I stepped on the wet floor.

* Predicted rain holding off on the first day, when outside was the only place to put some things.

* The fact that the rupture was low down, rather then up on our mezzanine floor where there’s water pipes.

* Our plumber (Trevor Palmer) who came almost immediately and was able to locate and fix it.

* Tim from JAEs, who has been totally dedicated to doing an excellent job of drying out our walls.

*My ever-faithful staff, led by Therese, through the extraordinary past five days.

As I write, most of the fans and dehumidifiers have gone, and it’s looking a lot like Christmas.    

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