We managed to get off relatively lightly in last week’s storm but we’re still feeling the effects. On my length, amazingly, I only had 3 trees down which caused a problem, which were relatively quick and easy to deal with but on the navigation that is never the end of it.
Weirs, tumble bays and various other water control and engineering structures and fallen tree limbs and debris don’t mix. This time it was only natural debris (I’ve had to wrestle an ironing board off my weirs before now – no idea where that came from!) to deal with. I was covering for my colleague over the weekend at New Haw and there was so much tree flotsam that the lock gates wouldn’t open fully. A drag rake, and hour, a colleague and a chocolate biscuit later and I had managed to clear it. On my own length things weren’t quite so bad. You can just see the branches snagged on the weirs below the bridge but the force of water managed to deal with much of it for me.
The rain however never sorts itself out. I had had less than half of one of these weir gates open pre-Doris, but to keep the levels in the navigation steady and safe I had to open 4 and a half gates at its peak. That meant shutting the navigation to boats for a day or so as the strong flow makes boating unsafe. Even the process of putting out the flood boards is more involved than you might think. Now we are now hi-tech and have an instantly updated river conditions blog but we still put the low-tech red boards out to make sure all boaters coming to a section of the river in conditions deemed unsafe for boating know to stop and moor up. On my stretch that process takes over an hour as the 5 flood boards are up to 2 and a half miles apart and some only accessible on foot over muddy fields.
It’s now back to a much less angry 1 and a quarter gates so boats are moving and all is much calmer. That all means I’ve had a few of nights of setting alarms for every hour and a half through the night to keep things under control. Last night I only had to get up 3 times, hence my ability to (almost) string a sentence together! My fitness tracker had 2 nights when it didn’t even recognise that the catnaps between alarms were even sleep. Never mind.
The one lovely thing about the end to the angry weather is the safety inspection walk is often people-free so you get to see wildlife that usually remains hidden. I was treated to a group of 4 roe deer out in the daytime watching me from the other bank. Always a joy, however sleep addled.