DelugeSunday 4th June 2000
AN HOUR AFTER MIDNIGHT, a thunderstorm rolls in from the west over the Pennines. Even with the curtains drawn and my eyes shut I see the first white flashes as the storm approaches. Despite the brightness, there's no thunder, but soon rumbles start to follow the lightning at five or ten second intervals.
The flashes come so thick and fast as it gets nearer that it seems as if some media event is in progress in the street. The interval between light and sound begins to increase again, and the torrential downpour subsides, as the storm continues on its way towards the Vale of York.
My cartoon, from August last year, was an attempt to catch the rain-pattered flow of water in a gutter during a downpour.
Next morning, peering through a studio window that is bleary with spatters and debris, I feel as if I'm looking through the glass of an aquarium at the sodden fields and hedges.
A Magpie sets the House Martins circling around it, like a shoal of fish circling a passing shark.
The river is well over the bridge piers, within a few feet of the top of the arches. Where we'd normally look out over rapids and a silt island, a brown torrent rolls powerfully along beneath us. We'd normally be looking down the height of a house to the river, today the surface is barely the height of a single storey beneath us. Heavy rain on an already wet landscape has resulted in the worst floods Yorkshire has seen for 25 years. Further up the valley in Todmorden water rose up through cellars, flooding some houses to a depth of eight feet.
The news film showed one woman in a house that had been flooded picking her soaking watercolour sketchbook from a box. All that artwork gone overnight; I really felt for her. There are some things that you can never replace.