That hot summer of '76: a flooded memory

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The numbers are in: it's official now that July was unusually hot, dry, sunny, ... After heatwave 1 ended last week, we might be officially in heatwave 2 as of this weekend.

A lot of references are made this summer to the legendary hot and dry summer of 1976.  I wasn't born yet in 1976 so I don't remember what it's like. 2018 sure is for me the hottest driest Belgian summer in my memory. But I found it interesting to read the memories of other people on the summer of 1976.

My parents however probably have the most uncommon memory of 1976 heatwave and drought: an inundation. Yep, their house flooded.

At least so they were told, as they were not there when it happened.  In the 70ies, my parents tended to leave for extended periods to the south of Europe on vacation. As teachers, they had that option. In the mean time good neighbours kept an eye on the empty house.

One day, they noticed a wet driveway next to the house when they came by.   "Ha, a dripping gutter", they thought initially after which they realised that that was rather impossible with the ongoing dry spell.  A second look showed the water coming from under the garage door.

When they went in to investigate, they discovered that on the upper floor in the bathroom a bathtub pipe had burst...and flooded the bathroom, the upper hall way where the water had created a small waterfall along the walls - ripping down the wallpaper -  in the staircase towards the garage floor and further down into the basement,  which was completely flooded.  I'm not sure whether there were water spoilage bylaws in effect at that moment as we currently have, but it was sure a lot of spilt water.

With the help of the fire department, the basement got pumped empty.
In the weeks after, the brave helpful souls cleaned up the mess in the basement and spread everything out on the grass field to dry.  My parents - being teachers - kept a lot of documentation and files in the basement....of which each page got spread out in the grass to dry. They had no clue what was valuable and what could be thrown out.  They told nothing to my parents when they phoned during their vacation in order not to spoil the vacation. My parents and my sister were ignorant to the field of paper sheets in their garden during the hot dry summer of 1976.

When my parents finally arrived home, the neighbours ran onto the driveway to stop them and warn them before going in about the damaged state of the house and all the gathered boxes of stuff.

And so it comes that when we hear about the exceptional summer of 1976 I also think of too much water, boxes full of wet paper, a grass field full of drying sheets and some great neighbours.


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