Thursday evening we all went to bed expecting to wake up and do the same Friday routine. Austin and Tristan were excited because they only had to go to school until 11am on Friday. Well, as I went to bed that night (Aaron is out of town on business. He is always out of town when something like this happens!), I was having a hard time sleeping because of the rain. It wasn’t very heavy but it was keeping me awake. As the night progressed, the storms were getting worse. By 5am a full blown lightening, thunder and hard rain storm was under way. I have never experienced this kind of storm. The lightening was never ending. One bolt, seconds after another and the thunder was immediate. I felt like Eeyore under a rain cloud, but this rain cloud was nasty and tumultuous! The sound of the thunder was deafening! It, truly, was engulfing our little village! Plus, the light show from the lightening was incredible!
This storm went on for 2 hours. During this time period, ALL the kids were up and joining me in my bedroom. Jack and Tristan were afraid, Sophie was a little oblivious, AJ was curious and Austin was excited he didn’t have to go to school! I wasn’t worried until the power went out around 6am. I knew the boys would not be going to school because I had received an email from the bus company the night before giving parents “heads up” on potential weather interruptions. (I previously posted about the weather info we have received from the schools about the autumn weather hazards.) Plus, it was raining too hard for them to catch the bus and I knew that France has flooding issues when there is a lot of rain, so I did not want to drive. It rained most of Friday and our view out the kitchen doors looked like this:
Well, as the day progressed we began to receive information from neighbors about how bad this “storm” really was. We have had NO access out of our village. The roads were ripped up from flooding on all sides. We were stranded. In fact, our neighbors all told me to not go anywhere, it was too dangerous. I wasn’t planning on going anywhere, but they gave me the warning. We have been without electricity or water for over 36 hours. The electricity just went on 2 hours ago, but still no water. We will probably not have water until Tuesday. The water lines have been contaminated so it will take a number of days to get it clean enough for human usage. The children all found ways to entertain themselves with out electricity the last 2 days. Ping Pong on the coffee table, make shift golf, and snail collecting are just a few.
The community of Sanilhac has been great. From what I have witnessed, no one has been impatient or angry. Every one has been very cooperative and helpful. Our neighbors have been wonderful and kind! They all know that Aaron is out of town, so they have been coming over periodically to make sure we have everything we need and are okay. In fact, one family found out we did not have gas for cooking so they brought over their large gas barbecue grill today. We did not have to use it, because right when I was getting ready to prepare dinner on the grill, the electricity turned on! Also, last night as we were all sitting around the table with a flashlight, a loud knock was made on the front door. It was our neighbors, Patrick and Denise, making sure we had candles. We had not been able to find any in our pantry so it was a blessing! Who would have thought we would need emergency preparedness here in France just for a year?! One can never be sure about any natural happenings in the world!
Everyone is in shock that this has happened in the village. I have not talked to one person who hasn’t said, “I’ve never seen this happen here like this before!” They have all experienced levels of flooding, but nothing that has effected them directly. The Mairie, or Mayor, has been handing out water to village residents since Friday afternoon. He handed more out today. I felt extremely grateful as I was standing in line for water for our family. We have received one 1.5 liter bottle of water per person per day. Certainly not enough to shower, but enough to drink and brush our teeth and wash our hands. We started using the swimming pool water tonight after the electricity went on for washing dishes.
This afternoon, I was told that the road to Uzès was ok to drive. Austin, Sophie and I made our way to Uzès, to get to the one grocery store that was open. The regular Carrefour had 3 feet of water so we were told an InterMarché was open on the other side of Uzès. Austin and I were in shock by what we saw. Below are the pictures we took along the two routes we traveled leaving and coming from our village of Sanilhac.
The above photo is an overturned car filled with tree limbs and debris.
This is the road I run on most days, and half of it is missing!:( I do not know if schools will be open on Monday. But, we have internet access now so I can check the local forecast and road conditions. The roads to Nîmes are closed off with road damage and/or bridges submerged. This experience is very fascinating to me, as we are trying to navigate a natural disaster in a foreign country, trying to speak a foreign language! Our family feels so grateful to the Lord for protecting us. Tristan and Austin all commented on how lucky we are to be living in a village up on a hill. Even though we have so much damage, it is all below our village. The electricity and no water have been our inconveniences, but no houses in our village were directly harmed or damaged and there are no deaths from our village. I do not know about those who were stranded or in other villages close by, but when I ask the locals, their response is, “no deaths”.
There will be weeks, if not months, of repair and rebuilding of roads. Hopefully our water issue will be solved sooner than later. But, c’est la vie! As I jokingly said to our neighbors, we now have a great story to tell of our experience in France!