Heavy rain in November and December 2013 had raised the level of The Avon considerably - it had been steadily rising and by Christmas Eve it was level with the edge of our patio for the first time. We are a "Riverside Pub", it is this fact that had made us purchase our beautiful pub only three months previously, at this stage the locals were telling us that we were at no risk of flooding since defences had been put in place almost ten years ago and Fordingbridge was "protected".
We had no idea that as the Jet Stream had "slipped" and weather fronts were hitting the South West rather than the usual North West, we were literally about to be in a "Perfect Storm".
We have flood gates that can be put in place to protect the main section of the pub, i.e. Bar & Kitchen and Christmas Day was the first day we used them. We didn't really think that we were going to flood, but the river was the highest we had seen it and we didn't want to take chances.
By the 29th of December it was lapping the lowest corner of our patio. For the next few days it pretty much stayed at that level.
By 4th January the river was running a lot faster and was running over our lowest corner of patio. We started to use sand bags to try and divert the water back into the river. We were also on an Amber flood warning and had Red warnings to the North and South of us.
On Monday 6th of January we woke up to water in the conservatory for the first time; we later discover that it has seeped up under the main building of the pub and then run into the conservatory due to the high levels of ground water under us. We are now on a Red warning for the first time.
Tuesday the 7th of January: The water table has seeped up through the floor of the restaurant, currently only flooding half of it by about an inch of water. We rip out the carpet to use to protect the conservatory from the rising levels. We have now lost the use of both the conservatory and the restaurant, two thirds of our pub.
Wednesday the 8th of January: Levels still rising, we start to pump out the restaurant.
Thursday the 9th of January: The car park is now full of water, effectively making us an island. The restaurant now has about 5 inches of water, we continue to pump it out and start to pump out the car park. (Little do we know that the car park will now need to be pumped out 24 hours a day for the next 2 months!) This was the only day that we actually closed, with so much water to deal with there was no way we could be open.
By Friday the 10th of January the river is even higher. We open again with all our pumps still going and only the bar in use. We receive very kind cards, presents and flowers from members of the community.
11th January: We start to build homemade defences using sand bags wood and tarpaulin to protect the conservatory from the river that by now is flowing against it.
12th January: The conservatory is back in use, with water flowing around it.
15th January: We are still on an Amber warning and surrounded by Red warnings.
16th January: The water is running even faster and sections of our patio are starting to get washed away.
17th January: We start to dry out the restaurant using industrial heaters.
29th January: Car park still being pumped out 24/7 although river has dropped slightly.
On 8th February we start to get more huge storms hitting.
9th February: Levels start to rise again after huge storm.
10th February: River levels rise more, we extend the flood defences.
12th February: More storms forecast with strongest to hit on Valentines Day evening.
On Valentines Day we use the restaurant for the first time even though it is still drying out; we only seat people we know well in there as the is a chance that levels will rise again. During the evening water starts to come up through the floor of the restaurant and also runs from under the pub into the conservatory, we mop constantly while people are eating their Valentines meal!
Valentines Day night was the last big storm to hit us. River levels stayed high for the next two weeks and we continue to dry out the Restaurant and pump out the Car Park. By the 26th of February the river level has dropped slightly. In Mid March we have a fence put up outside to stop people going to the edge of our patio. The weather is glorious and for the first time we have furniture back outside and people enjoying the sunshine.
On the 4th of April divers visited us to check that the underpinning of the conservatory and outside area had not been washed away - it was still in place. This was the first time the river had been calm and low enough for them to visit; I had been sending weekly videos for a month so they could see how fast it was.
By the 9th of April the river is finally back in the river and we have two tons of homemade flood defences taken away.
On the 12th of April we finally have the outside area back to normal to people to enjoy. The restaurant continued to dry out and it got a new carpet on the 6th of May.