Rain! (Or “What the heck is this wet stuff dropping on my head?”)

For those of you who may not know, parts of New Zealand are in drought or near-drought conditions. Canterbury, where we live, is one in that near-drought category.

We’ve had overcast days, days with a slight amount of drizzle, and mostly sunny, dry days, but last night, we were warned we were going to have storms. Another note for those not familiar with Christchurch is that we don’t very often get thunder or lightening.

Yesterday was a warm, fine day, but as we were driving home, we could see the storm clouds approaching. You know, those dark grey, threatening clouds with white, taller columns rising from the middle of them. So we battened down the hatches and sat in anticipation for the storm.

The first drops, as Noel said after he’d been outside, were those fat rain drops, the kind that *clunk* as they hit anything metal. With having a metal roof, we can hear rain hitting it, which can be a blessing or a curse when trying to sleep.

I foolishly said that the rain didn’t seem to be the storm-like conditions they were predicting. The three hours after the clouds rolled in, it had only been raining with a few of those heavy drops for about 20 minutes before giving up the ghost.

And then the thunder started. It was very low at first, very far in the distance, but it didn’t take long to start rattling things a bit more. The dogs and cats grew uneasy (as they do with thunder) and, while it never got spectacularly window-rattling loud, it was impressive enough to make Jenah want to hide.

The heavens opened up. For a very long time, it poured. The streets were flooded. The neighbours were all peering out their front windows at the flooding. Puddles were forming on the dry ground and even the sidewalk had a steady stream of water flooding down it.

The most telling sign was the drain between our neighbours’ house and ours. On the street, a stream about a meter wide was rushing down to our neighbours’ house, hitting the drain and making a small bubbling fountain, with a smaller, half meter wide stream flowing past our house and into the flooded intersection (and one would imagine beyond).

The thunder died down, but the heavy rains continued throughout the night.

As we went to bed, halfway through watching “Beautiful Thing” (one of the DVDs I bought from the Amazon gift vouchers my family got me for Christmas), I kept on having visions of waking up in the night with water up to the ankles around the house. So hearing the rain bucketing down on the metal roof throughout most parts of the night, and then linking that to flooded house, I didn’t really have an excellent night’s sleep.

Letting the dog out this morning, she hopped and skipped like she was playing a canine version of hopscotch as she went out to have her morning pee. She found a semi-dry patch (read no puddle but still soggy) area and did her business quickly and came running back in. (She doesn’t like rain or getting her underside uh wet)

After getting ready for work, we took Noel’s new PT Cruiser to work and got to the main roundabout in Northwood. For those of you not familiar with it, there’s a substantial single-lane roundabout going around a large sculpture with a fountain below it. Several cyprus-like trees surround the crown-like structure to make it quite a beautiful entrance to the subdivision.

Unfortunately, the drainage system in Northwood is a bit experimental. We’ve gone the “natural” route with drainage ditches instead of sewers in many parts. So… by the time you get down to the roundabout in heavy weather, it can be a bit flooded.

Understatement of the century this time… we drove up cautiously to the orange “Flooded” sign and looked at the swamped intersection. I nearly said to Noel that we should turn back, but he forged ahead.

Maybe it wasn’t such a hot choice. By the time we were actually nearing the intersection, I could see the water rising on my side. We were by no means in the deepest part, but there was about 2 feet of water (about 2/3 of a meter) on my side of the car. I was praying the water wouldn’t start pouring through the bottom of the door because if it did, I would have started screaming and rolling down the window there and then to get out.

Noel forged ahead, pushing the car steadily but calmly towards the roundabout. There was a council worker on one of the islands (quite literally) trying to get a drain cover up or something. His car was parked on the dry island around the fountain. Another car near the supermarket was thinking twice about going through the intersection. But we pushed through.

The entire roundabout was flooded, and, in places, quite deep. Noel got around the roundabout, ready to exit towards the dryer Main North Road, when he aimed for the gutter/curb part of the flooded road in front of us. I (quite rudely) told him to keep left because it was shallower… still filled with visions of water rushing in the doorway. The car pushed through the water, emerging from it with a few protests from parts of the engine as they tried to dry off.

I called Jacqui to try to get her to avoid the intersection, but James, her husband, had already informed her that she should try to go through the supermarket’s parking lot (which bypasses the roundabout). I told Noel, who thought it was a great idea, but, with the rain still steadily (although not heavily) falling, Jacqui ran into difficulties even with that plan as the water had increased and flooded right back to the supermarket carpark: quite a huge area.

So the much-needed rain turned into somewhat of a curse with flooding. I hope the near drought has finally broken (the weather people are predicting rain all week for us) but in a manageable manner. All I was getting was visions of Australia, parched and dry, finally getting relief… and it flooding with horrible floods.

Hopefully that won’t happen here!

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