Here on the levels in Somerset between the sea and the high ground we’re used to seeing the water. Driving between towns, the fields are shimmering mirrors, traced with sunken hedges, populated by opportunistic swans. The main roads are edged by dark puddles, threatening to merge over the white line with every fresh downpour.
Villages hugging the tiny ridges of high ground out in the marshlands are often cut off. Farm tractors become informal delivery vans and buses. Rows of willow trees, planted so that people can see where the road was, come into their own. The river lurks just over a low bank.
The network of narrow lanes across country are under water in many places, especially at the crossroads and gateways where you could have turned around. If you come upon one flooded section, chances are there are more ahead. It’s unwise to use these lanes as a short cut.
Towns are linked by single main roads. An incident on one of these could involve you in a twenty mile diversion just to get back from the shops. If that route then becomes blocked – easy enough with the high winds and dangerous conditions – hundreds of people could become stranded for hours.
Keep at least half a tank of fuel, even for local journeys. Carry waterproofs, wellies and a drink of water in your car. Make sure your mobile phone is charged.
Shop with a list and bring in extra long life food. Try to avoid going out at all in heavy rain. Start using all those ready meals in the freezer; if your electricity goes, they will be a write off anyway.
Night time is the most dangerous. Plan to stay in, invite neighbours round, play cards or games, learn to knit. Spending all your evenings slumped in front of the TV will soon give you cabin fever!
Driving through flood water is unwise, especially if you are on your own. You can’t see how deep it is, if the road has been washed away underneath, if there are any obstructions ahead. Your electrics may get damaged.
Don’t change gears but drive slowly and steadily. If your engine cuts out, it may have got water in it. Trying to restart it might destroy it.
Even six inches of fast moving water can sweep you off your feet, and not much more can move your car. If you become trapped in a flood, call for help at once. Don’t panic and think very carefully about your escape route.
Resilience is about adaptation. Change your behaviour in response to the environment. Go out as little as possible and make every journey count. Even if you’re not directly affected by flooding, you could still be caught up in a diversion as police try to clear another area. Your presence on the road is one more factor for the emergency services to take into account, so don’t waste it.