Narrow escape as relieved residents start to clean-up

Morpeth flood September 2012.'Joyce Scott has been flooded for a second time.
Morpeth flood September 2012.'Joyce Scott has been flooded for a second time.

THE massive clean-up is under way once more after dozens of residents returned to their flooded homes.

For most, it was the second time in four years that disaster has struck as they were forced to relive the horror of the Morpeth flood of 2008.

Morpeth flood September 2012.'Rhona Dunn and Simon Pringle with a collection bucket.

Morpeth flood September 2012.'Rhona Dunn and Simon Pringle with a collection bucket.

Others, who left their homes early on Tuesday not knowing what they would face on their return, were relieved to find they had a narrow escape.

But for all, concern remains that it could happen again.

For 86-year-old Joyce Scott, the fear is too great and she will not move back into her flooded Challoner’s Gardens home.

“I never expected anything like this again,” she said.

“Everything is gone again because I have nowhere to move anything to. For all the water was not as high this time, the damage is just as much.

“I was lucky in 2008 because it only took five months to get back to normal, but I don’t want to come back here again. I can’t face it.

“I definitely expected the flood defences to be in by now — they should have been. If I knew they would be in tomorrow I would stay, but we have to wait until 2014 and it could happen again.”

Mark Durning was looking after the Riverside Lodge for his parents, Bill and Liz, when the flood struck again.

“They are on holiday in America and they were going to come back when they heard about the flood, but there is nothing they can do,” he said.

“The flood was not as bad as last time, but we are still going to be closed for a few weeks. We’re going in now to give it a clean and see how bad the damage is.

“We had our own flood defences and they helped, but a drain blew up and just spouted water everywhere, which caused a lot of damage.

“I think there should have been some defences on the river by now. They’ve had four years to get their act together. We need them sooner rather than later because this is just going to happen again and again.”

Across town in Butchers Lonnen, Mark Fox was among those cleaning up again.

His home first flooded in 2008, then again in March 2010 when the Environment Agency was carrying out work to improve defences at the Cotting Burn.

He said: “The flood was about the same level as the last time, it would have been higher if the wall behind the houses hadn’t fallen down. When that happened the water hit the houses further down as well.

“I was woken by my neighbour at 5am who told me it was going to flood again so I got up and moved as much as I could. There was just as much damage, but the difference is that I could save more contents this time.

“I thought after the work had been done in 2010 I should have been fine and from what I can gather, it did hold, but there were problems further up.”

Paul Gillie, of Newminster Cottage B&B, was helped by his guests Ian, Arthur and Peter to move furniture and valuables upstairs when he was given the flood warning, but again his home and business were ruined.

“It is like deja vu — everything has been affected, we have got all the upheaval again and we have to find somewhere to live. It is unbelievable,” he said.

“But we have been through it before and we are now aware of what we need to do. The last time it took six months to put right, this time I’m positive it will be quicker.

“We haven’t got any choice about getting on. If we decided to go we wouldn’t be able to sell so that is not an option. We don’t want to do that anyway because this is a great place to live and a great place to bring up kids.”

Caroline Angus, of Challoner’s Gardens, was able to enjoy a happy 90th birthday yesterday after her home remained dry, but she is still worried.

“I always worry when it rains and I go to look at the river, but I couldn’t get out on Tuesday so I was just watching and waiting and hoping the rain would stop,” she said.

“I feel so sorry for the people who have been flooded. It is four years now since the last flood and something should have been done.”