Six Things I Learned From My Car Getting Stuck In Storm Imogen’s Flood Water
So, I took my girls on a Daddy Daughter road trip to rural Devon on Saturday afternoon to stay with some old friends.
It was pretty horrendous journey on the A30 and I was looking forward to getting off the main road and on to the farm lanes away from surface water and spray.
It’s only 7 miles from the A30 to my friends’ house, but the memories from those 7 miles will always be remembered.
A mile in and we’d encountered a small amount of Storm Imogen’s floodwater. As our pace slowed to 5mph, water cascaded down the road and puddles filled up the edge between the road and hedges.
10 minutes further into our journey, we came to more floodwater, more than before. Analysing the puddle, I decided to drive through; the tarmac underneath was still visible after all. I’d never experienced a bow wave on the road before my drive to Devon, but now I have.
Despite the cascades and large puddles continuing, everything was passable and our destination was little over 50 metres away.
The relieved feeling we had from seeing the village soon disappeared as we were confronted by another stretch of floodwater. The water that my car would eventually become stuck in, and from where my daughters would have to be rescued.
Between phone calls to the insurance company and car dealerships, mine’s a write off, the day’s events run through my head over and over and over again. I’ve now realised that despite this being a bad experience, I can take some positives from it, positives that will hopefully help someone else who is in a similar situation. So, here they are, the six things I’ve learned from my car getting stuck in floodwater:
Check And Double Check
As we came towards the final stretch of flood water, I stopped the car and put on my hazard lights. I got out, put on my wellies and walked halfway.
The water came just over my ankles, so I thought it would be okay. I tried to call my friends, but they were out.
I should have walked more than halfway, as then I would have known that the road dipped down. It would have only taken me a couple more minutes.
Looking back, calling them in the morning to check everything was okay should have been on my to do list, we were in a storm after all.
And if I checked my email before we set off, I would have seen a message from them advising me to use the other route. I don’t normally check emails on a Saturday, but one this one occasion I wish I had.
If You Get Stuck Open A Window Immediately
I don’t why I did this, but as soon as the car started to go into the dip and engine began to cut out I immediately opened my window.
It was probably instinct, but I needed to have an exit route for my daughters.
And I’m glad I did, because as the electrics went down, two windows locked shut, while another casually opened and closed on its own. The doors and boot followed suit, locking and unlocking by themselves. It was completely random, but by having one window open it made it easier for us to be rescued.
The plan was to put my daughters on the roof of the car until I could get out and carry them to dry land. Luckily, a passing stranger came to my aid, and I was able to hand my daughters out the window where he put them on dry(ish) land.
Turning Back Is An Option
We were so close to the village, but I should have turned back.
But again hindsight is great, as at the time I was concerned about doing that.
It was starting to get dark and with the continued rain, I thought the second lot of floodwater we went through (the one that made the bow wave) might have risen. I was worried about getting stuck further away from my friends’ place in the middle of nowhere.
Try And Turn The Situation Into An Adventure For Your Children
As I was handing my eldest daughter to the stranger who came to get us out of the car she said: “this is the worst day ever”. Although that was before the girls got to go in a fire truck, play with walkie-talkies, get driven to the village hall by the firemen and travel back to Cornwall in a low loader brining our wrecked car home.
They even played ‘floods’ in the bath and had lots of fun telling their friends at school and nursery.
The Generosity Of Strangers
The support of the people of the village was amazing and made me feel very emotional at times. That was probably also due to the fact I spent 2 hours standing in waist deep water in an attempt to rescue both our belongings and the car itself.
There was the man that took my girls out of the car; the man that stood with them while I was getting out the car; the firemen who looked after the girls and the fireman who rescued our overnight bag and booze from the car; the woman who washed and dried the girls’ toys, hats and car seat and bought me a thermos of tea; the guy that provided the ropes to pull the car out of water, and then attempted to jump start it on its exit from the ‘puddle’; the farmer and farm hand that provided the muscle and the tractor to drag the car out of the way; and my friends who washed our clothes, fed and watered us.
Think About Risks
Despite my car being in the water and a tractor pulling it out, three other vehicles still drove down and were about to attempt to drive across (until we shouted to stop them).
I thought I had assessed the situation properly and made a decision based on the information I had. A word of advice would be to take more time to really weigh up the risk.
Although it wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences and the family car is no more (that can be replaced), the most important thing is that everyone’s okay.
There’s nothing we can do about the situation, but we can learn from it, pick out the positives and keep smiling.