The Great Flood of 1968

part one
part three
part four
part five
part six
part seven
part eight
part nine
part ten
part eleven
part twelve
part thirteen
part fourteen
part fifteen
part sixteen
part two

The Great Flood of 68 - part one of sixteen

"As night gave way to day and the full extent of the disaster was revealed, it became obvious that for a great many people, life would not return to normal for a number of days yet to come for some it never did."

Introduction

Wednesday 10th July 1968 — Disaster Day. A date that lives vividly in the memories of those who experienced the Great Flood of ‘68.

Heavy rain had been falling for most of the day and by mid-evening, accompanied by thunder and lightning had reached torrential proportions in Bristol and North Somerset.

It was in fact, the worst rainstorm to hit the area in over half a century with more than five inches of rain falling in several districts in less than 24 hrs.

This enormous storm started as a heavy downpour over Brittany France, reached its peak over Bristol and South West England and finally drenched Holland on Thursday afternoon.

Flooding had been occurring throughout the South West from mid-day but the full fury of the flood was felt during the hours of darkness.

By 5.am almost every stream, brook and river in the area had burst its banks causing death, devastation and despair on a scale greater than any in living memory.

That night, seven people lost their lives, hundreds more suffered a terrifying ordeal of hardship and loss, bridges that had stood for centuries were washed away or severely damaged and countless houses, shops, factories and other properties were engulfed.

It was a night that re-kindled the ‘spirit of the blitz’, a night when numerous selfless acts of heroism and community spirit prevailed.

As night gave way to day and the full extent of the disaster was revealed, it became obvious that for a great many people life would not return to normal for a number of days yet to come.. . for same it never did.

The following is just a small sample of some of the events and stories of that night which will I hope, will give an insight into the geographical scale, human endeavours and unstoppable force of Nature which overnight catapulted thousands of people out of everyday life in mid-summer into an almost primordial fight for survival, a fight which sadly some failed to win.

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