By far the worst to suffer after the 2003 flash flood were the householders of Bannerfield, Broadmeadows and Yarrowford.
Ethel Munro, a life-long Bannerfield resident and now chair of its residents’ association, remembered: “I’ll never forget that day. It was absolutely horrendous. I saw out the kitchen window this wall of brown water coming down the hill. I couldn’t believe it.
“It was unbelievable how a little burn could cause so much damage. People just had to watch cars floating away. It was frightening. It made me think if the Meggat dam burst, we wouldn’t stand a chance.
“The residents of Bannerfield were going through hell. The next day, when the waters receded, it was an absolute mess: it was raw sewage, little animals and fish, and a hot day, so it stunk to high heaven.
“Fortunately our house is on an incline, and the vents are high on the wall, which saved us, so we were one of the lucky ones, and didn’t have to move out. We were one of ‘The Lucky 14 at Philipview’. The water hit the other houses facing the valley head on.”
Trish Banks, who was working in Bannerfield’s shop that afternoon, recalls: “It was traumatic. I mind standing at the door, looking up Bannerfield Drive, and I could see brown instead of green at the top. I thought ‘that’s strange’. Then all I could see was this wall of water coming towards the shop.
“My house is across the street, with my bairns inside, so I ran over the road, and it came within an inch of lipping the doorstep. It was crazy how quick it came up. The water came up to my knees when I ran back over to the shop. I looked through the window, and all I could see were crisp boxes floating on the floor. We closed the shop that night, but opened again on Saturday, because people depend on us.
“It was hard to comprehend, when you ken the river wasn’t so big, and there was all this water coming down. Where did it come from? How did it come down so quickly?”
While Trish’s house in Murray Place was undamaged, her parents along the street, Liz and Charlie Graham, were not so lucky. “I went out the back of the house to have a look, and by the time I came back in, it was flooded over my trainers – about three to four inches deep,” Liz remembered.
“It was like a river coming down the road,” Charlie recalled. “I could see a wall of water coming over the fence into the garden.”
“We couldn’t do anything,” Liz continued. “Numbers 9 to 16 were the only houses (in Murray Place) that got it. We must be lower down. It flooded the living room, the kitchen, the bathroom, the lobby. We couldn’t lift the carpets until the insurance came in, so we were living in the house until July. It was terrible.
“After two months we were moved to the flats – one of the smallest flats I’ve ever seen, on the very top flight, which was difficult being pensioners. Mind, it was lucky we were not put in the caravans, because they were freezing in winter. They said we’d be there three months, but it was really seven to eight months, because they couldn’t get our house dried out.”
But to this day Charlie remains philosophical: “We had everybody round about us, we just had to get on with it.”