It's hard to know whether allusions to the Noah's flood or Hurricane Katrina are more appropriate. It's been approximately 40 days and 40 nights since the floods swamped Yorkshire, and this weekend heavy rain brought flood waters further south. Pretty Gloucestershire looks like New Orleans' Ninth Ward, with water creeping into stone cottages that have stood for centuries. Oxford's colleges have water lapping at their lawns. Abandoned caravans bombard bridges in Worcestershire. Evesham looks more like Venice.
Rescue helicopters pluck residents from roofs and trees in Tewkesbury, almost completely submerged. Dogs climb aboard rescue boats, accompanied by their grateful owners. Fifty thousand have no electricity, and 350 thousand are expected to lose drinking water soon. Once sleepy rivers like the Windrush and the Cherwell are raging torrents, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, next to the swan-filled River Avon, has cancelled performances.
It's a mess out there.
On Friday, a storm system stalled over the M5, bringing 5 inches of rain to already sodden area. Motorists were stranded on the motorway overnight, stopped in their tracks by flood waters.
In Berkshire, just south of Buckinghamhsire (where I live), copious amounts of rain fell into the Thames, and also in Oxfordshire, just to the west. This put a halt to rail service in both Reading and Oxford. Because of the flooding upriver, both towns expect further flood surges in the next 24 hours.
More rain is forecast for the week, and as tributaries dump into rivers, the Severn and Thames are expected to swell even further.
The Times says the floods are worse than any in recorded history. The BBC has aerial footage, as well as a map of the affected area. The Independent names the culprit: global warming. But The Guardian implicates La Niña as well.
Others blame the fact that 10 percent of homes in England are built on a flood plain. They didn't call it the Doomsday Book for nothing.
It's raining here now. Fortunately, I'm not living in a flood plain, nor near any rivers. The stream out back has so far handled the runoff from my garden just fine.
But I'm checking out plans for an ark, just in case.