Extract of Interview with Janet Dolling
6th December 2004
1. Can you remember what you were doing on the day, the Saturday of the floods?
“Yes, umm I had just met my present husband a few months ago and we went to a dance at the Admiral Jellico which is at Canvey point. Do you want me to carry on? And I suppose it was about half past eleven we walked home which have been about a mile and a half and he took me home and I went to bed and he lived with his grandparents, near Canvey lake and on the way home he put his foot in the dyke, and when he got home he went to bed, and in the night his Grandma called out, “Ted, I think we have a leak” and he said “don’t worry about it Gran, I will see to it in the morning, and then a few hours later she called out again, and he got out of bed and the water was right up to his knees, and he knew they were flooded. He managed to rescue them and take them to a house he did have to swim up the path with them after putting them into the loft.
Anyway I lived with my family in a house, My Mum, Dad, brother, Sister and me, and they were younger than me. During the night we did hear a lot of noise going on and someone was banging on the door and said “there’s a flood” but we didn’t take much notice, and we went to bed, but then early in the morning there was more loud banging and we leaned out the window and we could hear cows mooing, obviously stranded on patches of high ground. Then my Father who had been a fireman during the war and was used to rescue work, he went out with my Brother who was seventeen, and they were gone for hours, and when they came back, my brother was wet up to the waist, and I can remember my Mother saying, “trust you to get wet!” but my Dad looked at her with a grave face and said, “No, this is serious! The wall is broken lots of people have drowned and we have to rescue them” and he went for the rest of the day.
He came back again and we didn’t go out all that day and he put sandbags by the back and front door and luckily we had a solid floor in the house, but the water started to seep through, and it was about ankle deep. So I remember that we propped the sofa and armchairs up on bricks and we rolled the stair carpet halfway up the stairs, and my Brother…. put his Motorbike up on the dining room table, and me and my sister had to leave our bikes in the shed, and they got ruined of course!
Anyway we stayed and we went to bed that night and my father came home with more awful stories about what had happened. On the Monday morning, the Police said that the whole island had to be evacuated because I suppose, the sewage was overflowing and it wasn’t safe to use the gas, and by then everywhere was covered with water. The top of our road wasn’t too deep but we had to have a boat, and my Father rowed us down the rest of the road and my Mother grabbed her Beaver Lamb coat and we took a few other things, and the main road then was quite high because it had originally been a sea wall so it was built up higher, so there was lots of lorries and buses, they could get through it without the water getting in the engines, and we were taken to a rest centre at Benfleet.