Today on the blog I have the pleasure of welcoming Katie, an author and blogger at KL Lovely, to my Best and Worst Holidays series. Katie is sharing with us her family’s worst holiday. And believe me, you’ve not read anything like this yet in this series.
More Ice-Cream Children?
Our family holiday to the South-East of Majorca in September 1989 will remain etched inside of my memory forever.
We were lucky to escape alive and only did so, because we chose an apartment on the first floor as opposed to the unfortunate people who were in the basement apartment of the hotel complex.
Allow me to take you on a journey.
My husband, I, our ten-year old son and seven-year old daughter flew from East – Midlands airport to Majorca on Thursday, 21 August 1989.
It was late when we arrived at the resort of Porto Colom, however we managed to get something to eat, before settling down for the night in our first floor apartment, located directly on the sea front. By all accounts, the apartment was excellent and exceeded our expectations.
The following morning it struck us that the resort was quite small: two hotels close by and the Cecilia Club apartments. We could tell at a glance, that we would be hard pressed to find a variety of activities to keep the children amused.
Thankfully, the beach was just a small bay. It was adequate, clean and safe for bathing. Most of our time during the day, was spent on the beach or at the hotel pool which was part of the Cecilia Club.
So far so good. The first week was over-cast with sunny intervals and no hint of what was yet to come!
On the eve of our tenth day, we went to bed as usual. The weather had been bad all day with persistent heavy rain. Being a light sleeper, I was finding it difficult to sleep and lay awake listening to the rain as it bounced off the windows and the steps outside of our apartment.
I heard the loud roar and crashing of the waves and felt certain that the sea was lapping against the door. Putting this down to my fanciful imagination, I lay in bed listening as the most incredible thunder cracked above and the lightening so intense, it lit up our apartment.
Very soon the children ran into our bedroom and climbed into the bed for comfort. While I stayed with the children, my husband went to check out the situation. He discovered, that we had no electricity to the apartment, thereby leaving us in darkness, except for the light offered to us from the raging storm.
With trepidation he opened the one and only door to our apartment. In daylight we were able to see the beach and the sea, but without streetlights, he was faced with pitch darkness. Just the sound of a raging sea and the sound of a fierce wind and torrential rain.
Quickly closing the door to avoid any further water to enter our apartment; which was raised a good five foot or more from the ground level, by way of steps; he returned to us all and advised us to sleep while he kept watch over the situation. At this point, water was seeping beneath the door.
When the sun rose in the early morning, we looked out of our apartment window to discover the true extent of the storm damage.
The sea front had been completely washed away and the waves were lapping on the pavement directly below us. We watched in sheer terror as cars, caravans, sun-lounges and beach huts floated in the sea, before our very eyes.
We all got dressed in shorts and tops, but having no wellingtons to walk through the silt and mud that was beyond the lapping waves, we wore our beach shoes.
At first we thought that the damage was due to the raging sea and the torrential rain.
How wrong we were!
Making our way carefully through the deep mud and slurry, we soon discovered the true extent of the damage. Entire stretches of road had been swept away, cutting the resort off from the rest of the Island. Trees were uprooted, evidence of severe damage to local business was all around us. With no electricity, the frozen food was quickly melting under the rising temperature of the morning sun.
Shop-keepers were handing our children melting ice-creams and ice lollies. Everywhere we looked was utter chaos.
Behind our apartment, the pool, tennis and squash courts were under 6 feet of muddy water. And still, the rain fell around us in torrents.
As we made our way towards the hotel, we became horrified as we observed a rescue operation taking place at the hotel. Holiday-makers were stranded in their apartments, standing on their balconies waving to the few people who had their own rubber dinghies.
As word went around the grape-vine, we discovered that the reservoir on higher ground behind the hotel, had burst its banks. Releasing gallons of water tumbling down the mountain creating mud slides. Hundreds of animals were killed. But even more tragic, we later discovered that three people died in the basement apartment of the hotel when the basement flooded under 10 feet of filthy water.
Trudging around the resort in the filthy mud and slurry, we tried to offer our help. There was little we could do. The water and electricity were cut off and the roads un- passable.
Returning to our apartment with the children, we watched the sea as it began to calm. Our legs and feet were filthy, our shoes ruined and we were hungry. Fortunately we had a small amount of milk and cereals, which we ate before the milk turned sour.
Both of the children, although devastated at the destruction of the resort, were fascinated at the power of the forces of nature and the damage that could be inflicted. They were not aware of the tragic loss of lives, we kept this from them.
The meteorological office, reported between 160 and 200 litres of rain per square metre had fallen over night as a result of the Gota Fria. (The cold drop. A weather phenomenon often occurring in the autumn in Spain.)
It was a sad and difficult time for everyone who suffered the consequences of the storm. For our part, we concentrated on keeping our children safe. We tried to keep them amused with educational games and stories.
With four days until the end of our holiday we felt fortunate that we would soon be going home. Within two days, the flooding began to recede and the resort roads, although severely damaged were open.
The first day of the roads being opened, we saw a bus- load of new holiday-makers arrive. We felt incredibly upset for them to arrive at a resort that was so damaged. On more than one occasion we were offered their holiday in exchange for our flight tickets home.
Of course, we knew that this was not feasible, however. Who could blame them for trying?
Our flight home was severely delayed because of damage to the run-way; but once we were in the airport, we were not moving.
The flight was extremely turbulent at times. Arriving at the East Midlands airport, I felt like kissing the ground.
Safe home with our children we felt that we had indeed experienced a lucky escape.
Have you just read this post with your mouths wide open in shock like I did when I first read it? You simply cannot imagine anything like this until you read Katie’s post or see the pictures. How awful. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. I’m so glad you and your family were ok and got home safe, Katie.
Katie is a mother of two grown up children and three step children. In addition she has three wonderful grandchildren. Katie is recently retired following a very long career, working for the NHS as a nurse. Since retirement Katie has concentrated on her love of writing. Her debut novel ‘Alice’ was published in January 2017, followed by her second novel, ‘Love,Secrets,and Absolution’ in November of the same year. In addition to writing contemporary fiction and poetry, she also enjoys writing articles and blog posts. You find Katie via her blog, KL Loveley. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and also Linkedin.
And if you would like to feature in my Best and Worst Holidays series on the blog, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.