WHAT was meant to be the perfect holiday turned into a nightmare so terrifying it left one Findon couple fearing for their lives.
Sue and Jacob Taghioff, of Coombe Rise, were on the fifth day of their week-long holiday to the idyllic resort of Vera Playa, on the Costa Almeria, Spain, when a month’s worth of rain relentlessly pounded the area over two days.
Up to 245 litres of water per square metre fell in the area on Friday morning alone, Spain’s weather agency reported.
The street’s outside the couple’s resort transformed into a horrifying brown torrent as nearby rivers swelled and burst their banks, releasing millions of gallons of flood water in a mater of seconds – with currents so powerful it swept away cars and ripped down motorway bridges.
Speaking to the Herald hours after the disaster, Sue, 47, of said: “It was the most horrifying and awful moment of my life. I thought to myself ‘this is it, I’m going to die’.
“We lost pretty much everything and were left in just the clothes we had on our back. In the last-minute dash out of my room I managed to grab my passport, flight details and my phone.
“Two minutes before, people were banging on our doors screaming at us that we have to go, we have to go.
“Then, we looked out into the street and saw this mass of brown water rushing down the street, picking up cars and dragging them out to the sea. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. I honestly believed I was going to die.”
At least 10 people were reported to have been killed by the flash floods in the region, with hundreds more made homeless.
Self-employed Sue described how staff at the resort began herding people up to the second floor of the apartment block she and Jacob were staying, in an effort to escape the treacherous currents below.
“It was absolute chaos,” she said. “The ground staff in the resort rushed us upstairs to the second floor. But when the waters looked like they were going to get higher, people started breaking doors off their hinges and putting them on the balcony.”
She said that the frightened holidaymakers and staff used the doors as make-shift ladders and platforms to climb onto the building’s roof.
The pair were trapped on the roof for several hours while torrential rain continued to pound down.
As the waters receded, rescue workers were eventually able to reach the stranded pair. But the once “perfect” holiday resort was now a scene of complete devastation.
Windows and shop fronts had been smashed, debris was strewn across the street and bridges were battered by millions of gallons of rushing waters.
Sue and Jacob’s hire car had been washed out to sea during the flash flooding.
The couple, along with hundreds of other people, pitched up in a sports centre, which had been transformed into a relief and support headquarters.
Conditions were cramped and uncomfortable, with the pair’s clothes saturated with flood water and caked in mud. Fortunately, a local Spanish property owner offered them a place to stay and wash their sodden clothing.
Sue and Jacob returned to the UK on Sunday and were “relieved” to be home. “It’s an experience I will never forget,” Sue said. “I haven’t been able to sleep properly since.”