The Flood. Boscastle, Cornwall, England - 16th August 2004. A poem.

I have visited Boscastle, Cornwall, many times in my life. During our most recent stay last August, we stayed in a house on Valency Row, which had felt the full force and effect of the terrible flood of 2004. This inspired me to try and write something poetic, that would give a sense of the transition from  a peaceful lunch time stroll to being trapped by a raging flood. This was the result:

The Flood.  Boscastle, Cornwall, England - 16th August 2004


Visitors walking by the harbour, cameras clicking, ice creams melting.





Against a clear blue sky.

The sun’s rays adding diamonds to the rippling little waves.




Sky darkens, chill breeze, sweaters going on.

Grey clouds;

Black clouds

Raindrops falling



Running to the car, shelter in shop doorway.




Rain torrential, three rivers rising, deluge from the hills.

The banks are burst

Roads submerged

Seeps into doorways

Climbs the stairways

Water rising fast. Trees uprooted ride the river, blocking bridges, making dams.

Cars abandoned, now are floating haphazard to the sea.




Ten foot wall of water crashes through the town, bridge collapsed, walls knocked down.

People climb for refuge

Scramble to the roof,

Nine people sitting on the tiles.

Three more inside the attic

Muddy water lapping, inches from their feet.

No way out, just wait, and pray, and shiver, while you wait for rescuers to come.




Helicopters scramble from   Chivenor and Culdrose,  St Mawgan too. Total seven.

Rain still pouring down. Temperature low and visibility short.

In attics , rooftops, top floor rooms, a hundred people shelter from the flood.

Distant sounds of rotors whirring, growing louder and floodlights pierce the gloom.

Winch men float down in orange suits. Take the children first.

Women dressed in summer skirts, flapping in the wind. Soon all are safe away.




The Valency, the Jordan, and the Paradise no longer gentle streams.

A hundred people rescued; scared, and wet, and cold, but safe.

Eighty cars are wrecked or lost, some floated out to sea.

Six buildings washed away, and dozens more in ruins

Four bridges washed away.

But not one person died, nor suffered serious hurt

There by the Grace of God.



 Paddy Slevin. Nov 2012 ©

Views: 16

Comment by Jenny Itzcovitz on December 16, 2012 at 17:42

Very evocative and dramatic poem, Paddy.

We were on holiday in Cornwall, that year in August, and on the way home we decided to stop at Boscastle. We stopped in the car park and all my family got out of the car except for me. For some reason I had a bad feeling and refused to get out of the car.

We didn't stay for long and drove home to London.

The next day those terrible storms came ... and I was so relieved we hadn't stayed for long. It was very strange, that I hadn't wanted to get out of the car that day.

Wonderful poem, brings it all back.


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