Floods nearly as bad as Mr Shakey

My heart goes out to Cantabrians cleaning up flood damaged homes today.

I know a little about how they must be feeling.

A few weeks ago my family moved into our new home.

By the time we had finished moving it was late, the children were tired and hungry, and it was too late in the day to start putting up bunks.

We camped in the lounge on mattresses, excited to finally be moved in.

At 4am I was awoken by a strange sound. I put my foot on the floor and discovered I was ankle deep in water and that strange sound was gushing water.

Exhausted, we'd fallen asleep with the television on.

While Jake and the Neverland Pirates were joyfully discovering dubloons, bleary-eyed I was discovering a jet of water coming from the laundry tub which clocked me right in the face with surprising force.

Around me was chaos, possessions floating haphazardly and there was a strong burning smell.

I flicked the power off, and, plunged into darkness, started yelling for the bloke in the house to wake up.

Then I did what people always do in movies - tried to stick my finger in the stream of water to block it.

Unlike the movies it didn't work.

Bloke appeared in his undies and he took over blocking the water duties while I consoled our crying children and took them outside to sit in the warm car with the light on.

Back inside bloke was asking me if I knew where the water mains were.

No idea.

Soaked from head to toe and out of ideas I banged on the neighbour's door. it would have been 4.20am.

What a way to meet your neighbours.

If I close my eyes I can still see them standing there. She, pregnant and anxious, he nervously wondering who the hell might be banging on their door at 4am.

He ran and shut the water mains off and disappeared inside with a wave.

Now that the jet of water was subdued we were able to survey the damage by torchlight. It wasn't pretty.

I felt like crying.

No internet access and no Yellow Pages handy I rang 018 to find an emergency plumber.

''I'm in Christchurch and I need an emergency plumber,'' I said.

''Connecting you now,'' she said, prompting connecting me to the Emergency Department at Christchurch Hospital.

I rang back.

''I am in Christchurch and I need to find an emergency plumber,'' I said slowly.

''There's one in Leeston, that's near Christchurch,'' she said.

I gave up.

Wading through the water in the dark I opened cupboards until I found a damp Yellow Pages.

By this time it was 6am. Then a top bloke named Aaron from 4 Ever Plumbing said he would drive from Rangiora to help out. I'll 4 Ever be grateful.

Turns out a small piece of plastic inside the laundry tap chose the same day we moved in to wear out.

From there it was 'how are we going to get all of this water out?'

Enviro came to the rescue.

Jordan from Enviro was simply amazing, as was Hamish who we would later deal with.

Calmly Jordan pumped the water out and then we cleared the lounge, kitchen and laundry of all belongings and dumped the soggy mess onto the lawn.

It was bad but not the worst Jordan had seen.

He also told me about the other jobs the company does - they clean up crime scenes - ''we get paid triple time for those'' and meth labs.

''You seen Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?'' he said. ''It's like that.''

Luckily we had concrete floors so it was just a matter of lifting up the carpets and installing many, many dehumidifiers for over a week going 24 hours a day to get the place dry again. Noisy! It was like having a helicopter inside the house. I felt like I was in an old-school episode of M*A*S*H.

Jordan was so sweet he even called in on a Sunday in his own time just to check on our family and that the place was drying out OK.

During the clean up/drying week, every meal was a picnic outside on the lawn, jumping from the kitchen floor out the door without squishing into the soggy carpets, and hand washing in the bathtub was the order of the day. On the bright side, for the first time ever, without a washing machine no school socks went missing from Mount Washmore.

On the first day of school one of my twin boys, aged 6, came home with a picture he drew of our family outside our new house.

''That's you with wet hair and clothes. That's dad in his underpants. And that's the leak,'' he said pointing to a jagged-edged blue bit which had an unhappy face in the middle of it.

''I don't like leaks almost as much as I don't like Mr Shakey.''

The Press