Residents hope to avoid major flood damage

MORPETH residents have spoken about having to leave their homes after receiving flood warnings.

The River Wansbeck burst its banks earlier today and people living in High Stanners were taken by boat to the town hall and then transported to a rest centre at King Edward VI School.

But the water levels have gone down since their peak at around 10am and properties have generally not been badly effected.

More than a dozen families in the Dawson Place area of the town were evacuated earlier this morning as a precaution and residents at Abbey View, Abbey Terrace and Challoners Gardens were given the option to go to the rest centre.

Cameron and Angela Blackhall of Abbey Terrace lost a number of possessions and their home required a completely new kitchen and boiler when their home was flooded in September 2008.

Mr Blackhall said: “We were given an amber warning first, then a flood warning at about 4am. After what happened last time, we made sure we moved as many things as possible upstairs.

“We were taken away by boat and the water was up to the front door step. We went to the town hall initially and were then taken up to KEVI.

“We’re concerned that the water may have entered the house and about how high it could reach.”

Mrs Blackhall added: “The ducks were swimming past the front gate this morning, which shows just how deep the water levels were.

“We were out of our home for eight months last time and it was an incredibly disruptive period and emotionally draining.

“All this shows how important the flood defence scheme is, but it should have been built a long time ago.”

Eddie and June Pears also received the warning calls and they went to the Riverside Lodge next door before driving up to KEVI.

They have been living in Challoners Gardens, owned by the Isos housing association, for two years.

Mr Pears said: “We heard the rain all night and at 4am we saw lights on and people were moving their cars so we did the same.

“We asked if there were sandbags but we were told by the wardens that we wouldn’t be able to get any at that time.

“Now we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the damage isn’t too bad. Our daughter lives in Lancaster Park and our son in Ashington, but we won’t know what’s going on or if we can return to our home so we’re staying at the rest centre at the moment.”

Cher King, who lives in Middle Greens, got an Environment Agency warning at 8am and then tried to get to her parents’ house as they live in High Stanners and are currently on holiday. But by the time she got through the town centre, Oldgate Bridge was closed.

She went to the rest centre via the town hall.

“A friend who lives in High Stanners said her front garden was completely flooded this morning and I’m hoping it doesn’t get as bad as last time,” she said.

“There could be a big problem with insurance because if people have to put in another claim, their home will become uninsurable.”

Rob Harrison and his wife Maria decided to stay put in their Abbey View home. Mrs Harrison’s mother used to live there and was evacuated in 2008, she died a few months later.

“We moved in during April 2010 and just a couple of days later a fire officer knocked on our door to say flooding was possible,” said Mr Harrison.

“But we enjoy living by the river and the home has been in our family for 80 years and only once, four years ago, has it been seriously damaged by flood waters.

“They got up to about half a metre at 10am, but they have gone down since then and hopefully they will continue to recede.”