Anniversary of a flood

Now there’s a sight one would like to forget. I was reminded that this massive flood took place ten years ago this week. So naturally that has inspired me to have a look back and look at the food damage now.

And the irony is not lost on me. I have been a few days late writing the post as I have been attending to minor flood damage this week.

But when you have something as biblical as the one in 2013, other dramas do tend to pale into insignificance.

So here it was, autumn 2013. We were new to these √©pisode c√©venol events. We knew we had moved to a winter wet / summer dry climate. And that autumn storms were ‘A Thing’. But how much of a thing that morning ….

I can remember that our friend Etienne had just driven up to the farm around 8am and he had stopped his car but didn’t get out. Odd I thought. I wonder why. It turns out the rain was falling so heavily he couldn’t open his car door.

From inside our thick walled house we just didn’t hear more than the usual heavy rain battering down the courtyard and drive.

But when we opened the front door the whole area was floating.

I just had a look back at the archives to see how much rain fell. Eight inches in about three hours. 210mm in one horrid morning.

The house, by contrast, had not a drop of flood water. It is brilliantly built on a granite outcrop and everything just flowed around it.

But the courtyard..

Ooh, so lovely to see Artur again. That darling cat.

The whole part of the garden (and pool) directly below the flood water that screamed down Mont Godin and ended up seven terraces below the house…

It was a good thing we built a swimming pool on terrace number four. That slowed some of the mud somewhat.

And mud and topsoil were the hardest thing to put back.

We couldn’t do much about the actual forest where so much was ripped away.

But we had the lovely Monsieur Dumon dig four giant channels almost 100 metres long in the forest across the mountain to slow down any future flood water. And it has worked.

I miss that gorgeous wall in front of the house.

[Goodness I couldn’t even remember what I called this part of the farm. The Plum Bank. That is about about as bad as calling it the garden in front of the house. Here is how it used to look.]

But I couldn’t face more wall building. The nurturing power of planted trees seemed to be what this farm needed.

It took ten years to getting around to rebuilding the wall, further away from any future flood damage. But oh my I had quite forgotten just how much water shipped down the potager. Rebuilding collapsed terraces is just not a pretty job.

But enough of the gloom. Here is the garden ten years on.

And incredibly, most of the immediate damage was repaired in just one short week straight after the flood. I can’t tell you how grateful we were for the help of Nicholas (walls and garden) Bernard and Manu (manual digging the topsoil from the pool). And Etienne and Bebere for rebuilding our courtyard.

Here were the chestnut logs used to make the new steps all over the mountain.

The new courtyard.

Ah that’s better. We are getting into some non mud coloured shots at last.

The pool (minus one incident with a horse) is back to pre-flood glory.

And a big pat on the back for me.

I never stopped shifting wheelbarrow loads of topsoil, replanting endless shrubs, rebuilding, rethinking, regrowing.

And on that immodest note, I’m off to weed the top potager asparagus patch and generally try and tame the jungle. It may have been rebuilt in the past ten years. But the work never stops.