Young voices of the flood

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THE fight to save Morpeth’s flood alleviation scheme has been taken up by the town’s youngsters.

Last week we showed how businesses and community groups were backing our campaign to have the much promised £17m flood defence project re-instated in the Environment Agency’s budget as a matter of urgency.

Now children and teenagers have taken the chance to make their voices heard by writing of their experiences of the 2008 flood and outlining just how important the alleviation scheme is to them.

Here is just a small selection of the 145 letters we received

More letters will be published next week and all will be sent on to the Environment Agency Board and Government Ministers.

I WAS not involved in the flood, but my friends Rayana and Samantha were.

I woke up early to the sound of the forecast booming away. It was forecast for heavy rain. As soon as I heard that I though Samantha’s and Rayana’s houses might be flooded.

I knew Samantha was ill at the time. ‘Oh no’, I thought, ‘is Samantha going to be alright?’.

The next thing I knew is that a helicopter was flying above my house. I knew this was the start of chaos.

Next, we went down to the rugby club to see how bad it was. When I got down there I found debris everywhere.

Water was running rapidly through the streets, but we could not do anything.

LAUREN GOOSE, 8

Morpeth All Saints C of E First School

ONE morning I woke up ill. It was on September 6, 2008.

It was horrible. We just saw a huge, drenching tidal wave come across to our house. We had to move everything upstairs in five minutes. We moved pictures, food, ornaments, my Dad’s fishing gear and his motorbike jackets.

We had to grab my little black and white cat called Tosh and took him upstairs to the furthest room. Also Kenwood, our other cat, went upstairs as well.

The next morning I heard a helicopter circling Morpeth. It was checking for sights of anyone drowning.

My family had to move everything to a rental house and while we were doing that, for a week we lived with my grandparents and the cats lived with Nana too.

SAMANTHA STEPHENSON, 8

Morpeth All Saints C of E First School

WHEN I woke up from my sleep I heard an ‘eeeeekkkkkk’, so I sprang to my feet, ran down the stairs and ran to my mum.

I commented: “Mum, what’s the entire racket about?”

“Look out the window,” she said.

I looked out of the window and saw there was a massive flood and it got bigger and bigger. It got so big the kitchen was flooded.

My Mum rang my uncle because he is the coastguard. When my uncle and his friends came they had gigantic boots.

When we were outside I had to get carried because the water was so deep. We went as fast as we could so we could not get flooded in the car.

We went to my auntie’s because she was not flooded.

RAYANA BURT, 9

Morpeth All Saints C of E First School

I AM writing about my experiences during the floods in 2008.

I was a street away when the flood came.

When I went to the leisure centre for swimming lessons I found it was flooded, terrifying.

After the flood I was not allowed to go to the park for 20 days until it was mended.

I had to go to Hexham to be safe.

Unfortunately, we had a bit of trouble. We had to drive through the flood to get there.

KATHRYN ARKLESS, 7

St Robert’s RC First School

I WAS at the floods when it happened.

Me, my brother and my Dad were stuck in the flood for two hours. We got dropped off at Greggs where we all got a sausage for we realised that the flood was on.

My Dad called my Mummy and my sister, who were at my house, but my Mum couldn’t get out of her house so my Grandma saved us.

I hope it never floods again.

THOMAS CUNNINGHAM, 8

St Robert’s RC First School

I AM writing about the flood. I wasn’t there, but I have seen pictures and I was shocked to see Morpeth.

I just got home before the flood started.

I saw pictures on TV. I was shocked to see how much damage the water made to shops and houses.

My Grandad was flooded and so was my Aunty.

All the shops were flooded.

Everybody’s house in Morpeth was flooded and cars sank.

Everybody’s property was ruined.

I hope it doesn’t happen again.

ELLIE MCLAUGHLIN, 7

St Robert’s RC First School

I AM writing about the floods. Me and my family were not involved in the flood, but I did see the pictures of the flood.

When I saw the pictures I was furious that the water made so much danger. I was surprised that the people could not get food and water and things they needed.

I hope there will be no more flood in Morpeth.

INDEROOP THINDAL, 8

I AM writing to tell you about how my life was changed by the September 6, 2008 flood.

My house was destroyed, ruined. The downstairs was covered in mud, leaves and dung. The smell was awful and it filled the whole house. Then I had to move out.

My grandparents lived in Whitley Bay so my parents moved in with them, but because my school was in Morpeth I had to move in with a friend. I stayed there for six months and I only visited my parents twice. I missed them terribly. It was so hard to go that length of time without them.

It was a year after the flood when our downstairs was finally complete.

We were lucky that our insurance paid for it. If that were to happen again our insurance wouldn’t pay for all of it and that would mean we would lose thousands of pounds. It would also mean breaking up my family for another six months.

Every time it rains fear creeps into my mind and tells me that danger lies ahead.

If flood defences were put up I could sleep easy at night, so could my parents. I couldn’t bear being split up from them again and we really couldn’t afford it so please consider us and put up decent flood defences.

ABIGAIL VICTORIA

NEILLY, Year 9

King Edward VI School

IT is essential that the Environment Agency gives Morpeth flood defences. It is selfish. It is ridiculous.

Someone I know had a terrible experience during the floods.

Their dog was washed away into the freezing North Sea, plus her garage was washed down river. While all this was happening she still had time to help the elderly up the hills to safety.

Her life was turned upside down.

Even though she was going through lots, she performed a number of selfless acts, while the Environment Agency can’t even be bothered to put a wall up to help this brave girl and the rest of the town from an icy death.

CALUM HUGHES

King Edward VI School

I BELIEVE it is essential that the Environment Agency does something about Morpeth’s flood defences.

I mean, anyone who saw footage of the flood and could make a difference would. Well, anyone decent.

I think the Environment Agency is selfish and truly disgraceful.

Seeing all of those old, brittle and emotionally weak people being boated out of their homes and not being able to live in their cosy house for six months, even this one fact is disgusting and there are many more.

CALLUM MILLING, Year 9

King Edward VI School

I AM writing this letter because I am distressed that flood defences still haven’t been built. It has nearly been two-and-a-half years and no precautions have been made.

Thousands of homes and businesses were flooded and terribly damaged, leaving thousands homeless. The Morpeth flood was the biggest crisis Morpeth has ever encountered; insurance increased by 300 percent and people had to pay tens of thousands to live back in their houses, they were thousands of pounds in debt and affected for life.

I was flooded, not severely, but badly. Our furniture flooded, floorboards and electricals ruined. We moved out for six months, then moved back in. You may think that’s not bad, but we live in fear of losing all our money, being homeless and tens of thousands of pounds in debt. That is the most scary thing I can think of.

There are a few methods that could be done, like flood gates, not that expensive, effective and you can’t see them. When the river is high, simply open them to steer the water away. This would work. I’m sure everyone in Morpeth wouldn’t mind paying a small amount of money to get these built.

Sixty years ago, Morpeth had a flood. They put a stop to it for this long so why can’t we? I know the reason: the Government. The Government is not focused on the ‘minor issues’, which are actually major. It is too busy talking about other issues that wouldn’t happen for the next 50 years, so I say, work in the present, solve the problems people are worried about.

A right that humans have according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is to not live in fear. I live in fear and nothing has been done about it.

The Prime Minister won’t be Prime Minister in 50 years. I appreciate him helping issues that won’t happen for a long time, but it seems that is all he is focused on.

I propose to stop people worrying. The floods occurred because of two weather crises crossing, very unlikely and even more unlikely for it to happen again, but not impossible that it will.

All we ask (by we I mean the people of Morpeth) is to have defences, that’s it.

HAYDEN WILLIS, Year 9

King Edward VI School

I AM Ewan Morrison, a citizen of Morpeth town, and I would like to join your campaign to get money for future flood defences.

My memories of the flood are horrific and I would like to forget them, but it is impossible.

There was a little dog that got swept away with the currents and unfortunately drowned. A little girl got swept away, but her Dad rescued her just in time.

EWAN MORRISON

Chantry Middle School

MY name is Amy Sneddon and I am appalled at the fact that you would even think of cutting the flood defence budget.

2008 wasn’t a great year for the UK with the recession in full swing, I understand that, but there should have been more money for things we really need instead of buying MPs duck houses.

Elderly people I know were stuck indoors for a long time and that is distressing for ill people, and at their age as well.

Mum couldn’t get the kids to school and it was truly shocking.

AMY SNEDDON

Chantry Middle School

I AM Molly Simm and I am so upset about the 2008 Morpeth flood.

I can’t believe how much damage this flood has brought to this friendly town. Many children have experienced a disaster that they would always remember.

And now to think that you might just cut the flood defence budget, well I am quite appalled.

I know that we are in recession, but we should really be concentrating on spending money on resources that we need to protect the people who have made the decision to live here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I hope you take everything I said into account.

MOLLY SIMM

Chantry Middle School