Firemen said they'd never seen anything like it: How floods destroyed my home

·4 min read
Lilias' home was badly flooded- repair works are just beginning. (Supplied)
Lilias' home was badly flooded- repair works are just beginning. (Supplied)

Watching the torrential rain from the window, Lilias Ahmeira noticed that the lane outside her four-bedroom house in Chard, Somerset was beginning to flood. 

She wasn’t particularly alarmed."I’ve lived here for eleven years with my three sons Seamus, 23, Tom, 22 and George 15 and when it rains very hard, there’s nowhere for the water to go so we’ll often end up with two or three inches," says Lilias, 58, a health practitioner.

"But a couple of weeks ago, it got to around 4pm and there was an absolute deluge. The lane was filling up quicker than I’d ever seen it. 

"It was coming up to the front door and I shouted to my sons to help, so we had to grab plastic feed bags from the farm and put them outside filled with sand. But the water was rising and rising until about three feet of water was churning up the tarmac. 

The river burst its banks and poured down the road (Supplied)
The river burst its banks and poured down the road (Supplied)

Read more: Pictures show scale of devastating flash floods in Somerset

"You see blockbuster movies where people are trying to escape boiling rivers and you never think it’s going to be you in your own movie. I didn’t have time to be scared but the whole ground was shaking. I remember calling 999 and saying: ‘We really need help but I don’t think you’ll be able to get to us – but when you can, do!’"

Dramatic flooding has hit many parts of Western Europe in recent weeks and sadly nearly 200 people have been killed in the floods in Germany, Austria and Belgium.

Thankfully, no one was injured in the floods which hit Lilias’ small neighbourhood but the three-quarters of a mile long lane to the homes has been destroyed. She estimates that repairing the damage to her own house could come to six figures.

"Five lovely firemen eventually attended and said they had never seen anything like it," says Lilias. "Engineers from the council also said the same thing. The whole road had gone and we were stranded for four days. 

"The only way to get food was to drive over the fields to the top road."

The water started to pour into the house (Supplied)
The water started to pour into the house (Supplied)

Lilias and her sons are still living in the house, unable to move anywhere else. The wooden floors are destroyed, many of the downstairs walls need replastering and she has no electricity in several of the rooms. 

The large riding school arena outside her home is also gone. Yet, she is facing the challenge with remarkable stoicism and positivity.

"The damage is awful and I can’t begin to tell you about the smell. I’m being so careful to protect everyone against mould because as a health practitioner, I know how damaging that can be if the spores get into your lungs," she says. 

"Shortly after the flood, having run on adrenaline for so long I had a moment when I ‘crashed’ and was very upset. But my job is to help others with their mental and physical health so I had to walk the talk and think positively about this situation.

A caravan for Christmas? The dog's face says it all...(Supplied)
A caravan for Christmas? The dog's face says it all...(Supplied)

Read more: Floods deluge parts of western Europe

"So as soon as they are available, we are going to move into two static caravans and live in them on our grounds while the repairs go ahead. The insurance company has told me that I need to remove everything from the house – not just the downstairs floor – so we’ll have to throw a lot out and keep a lot in storage. 

"But I’m looking at this as a good exercise in decluttering.The weather is currently warm so we can have all the windows open to get rid of the smell. The boys are busy deciding what to take and what not to take over to the caravans because we may well be in them until next summer. 

The road, after the flood. (Supplied)
The road, after the flood. (Supplied)

"We’ll definitely have to spend Christmas in them but I’m seeing this as an adventure. I’ve already said to the boys that we’ll get two caravans and they can cook one course in one and I’ll cook the other. 

"I am so proud of my sons and how they have handled this so far. Moving into the caravans will be a challenge but we can live very simply and will take each moment hour by hour and day by day. It’s a case of best foot forward."

Watch: Germany floods: Historic town buried in mud

life edit
life edit
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting