On June 11th, me, my husband and two daughters embarked on a week long holiday with our oldest and best friends and their chlldren to the wonderful, glamourous Cote D'Azur in the South of France - or so we thought. Don't get me wrong, the first four days were exactly that. Sun, sea and plenty of sand. The temperature was in the high nineties and we were living in our swimming costumes.
And then on day five, the rain started to pour - and I mean POUR!!! From the minute we woke up, the rain did not stop. Now, we British know rain, we cope with rain, we live with rain almost daily but this was rain that we could barely see through! So after a homemade curry and a few glasses of wine, we called it a day and went to bed close to midnight, oblivious to the terrifying spiral of events that was to begin just three short hours later.
I woke up with the ringing of my phone beside the bed at approximately 3am to hear my best friend telling me to grab what clothes etc we could and get out. The caravan park was flooding. And flood it did. Quickly. Powerfully. And unbelieveably.
By 3.30am our kids were huddle under a blanket in torrential rain on the roof of the park's clubhouse. The water had risen to over two feet within half an hour and still rising at an incredible rate. We waited and waited, tried to laugh and keep the kids from flipping out by keeping upbeat and none of us voicing what was running through our heads. WHAT THE HELL WAS HAPPENING???
And then at 6.30 am the sun had risen and the rain stopped - and that was when we saw the devastation. Cars were completely submerged in dirty flood water, mobile caravans were floating away and people stranded in trees were whistling and shouting to get someone's, anyone's attention. It was terrifying. We had no idea how long we would be on that roof or how we would get off!
The wait was a long one, a ten hour one but to cut a long story short, I will never forget the sounds (babies crying, people shouting, tearful calls to loved one on mobile phones) or the smells (dirty water, wet people/dogs, cigarette smoke and worst of all, the eventual smell of gas) but finally we were rescued by police and marine helicopters completely unhurt and all still together.
Our ordeal was terrifying but we were lucky, there were others in the small village at the bottom of those deceivingly beautiful mountains that lost their lives, their homes and businesses. I thank God for sparing us and the thousands of others...