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17. The 'Great' Flood

I haven't had the strength to sit and write about our New Year's Eve celebration in Caminha until now, as we're still a bit traumatized from waters that greeted us in 2023.

01 January 2023

My January in Portugal was spent asking locals "does it really rain this much here??!!" The response has been consistent: "Never!"

New Year's Eve 2022 was a rainy night. We were charmed by the thought of standing out in the mist on the verandah, and looking across the river at Spain, where it was already 2023. "We're looking into the FUTURE!," we shouted.

The verandah's view of Spain, looking from 2022 into 2023 just before midnight on New Year's Eve.

But nature had other plans for us that night. The term "Alerta Vermelho" became all too familiar us. For several weeks prior, Portugal had been experiencing an Atmospheric River of moisture: essentially, warming ocean air directed like a 'river' in the sky, sending intense rain, humidity, and winds over the country, but especially Northern Portugal. I hardly ever wake up at night during storms. But that night, I awoke to winds, the sounds of our shutters banging against the walls, and water seeping into the window frames.

When finally pulled ourselves out of bed in the early dawn hours, we heard the water rushing around the house outside the bedroom windows, like a torrent:

What we didn't quite realize was that even though we are on a hillside, the municipal storm drains in front of our house had been blocked with debris, so much of the water from the roadway was washing directly into our above-ground basement. Much to our horror, the basement had nearly 25cm of standing water in it by 8:00am.

Most everything of value in the basement had been moved out, with mostly only the wine barrels and construction garbage being effected.

Unfortunately, our brand-new laundry area -- namely the machines we had only used for a few weeks -- though elevated off the floor, were completely submerged.

Needless to say, this experience ruined our stay in the house for January. We spent the remainder of the time worrying about water intrusion, and getting (very expensive) estimates from the contractors for drainage solutions.

Above - damage in and around the house, including: the retaining wall that collapsed on our neighbor's home; the many walls that collapsed on the roadways; the road in front of our house; the basement as the water drained; and the flooded parking areas in the nearby town of Ponte de Lima.

Alas, our renovation project grew a little last month, further extending our finish line farther than we had hoped. Renovating in Europe (and probably just about everywhere) is roller-coaster of ups and downs, victories and setbacks, and then a tad more progress. The beginning of 2023 was not the progression for which we had hoped.


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1 comentário

21 de ago. de 2023

While reading I had the feeling of being in the house and felt helpless and desperate about the devastation caused by the water.

I can well understand that it took time and strength to write this post.

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