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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Hell of high water now a memory at flooded Ulverston home

AN ULVERSTON couple whose house was devastated by floods have spoken of the hell they endured getting it back to good condition.

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RESTORATION PROJECT The Steel Street house, top, before renovation work and, above, afterwards. Inset: Tony Smyth submitted

Tony and Marie Smyth, who run Ulverston hairdressers The Salon, spent thousands of pounds repairing the damage to their Steel Street property after the floods of 2009 – but the house remained uninhabitable.

However, they were finally able to welcome tenants back into the property in May after getting assistance from affordable housing provider South Lakes Housing (SLH).

Mr Smyth said: “It was absolutely dreadful – the damage was really bad. The whole place was a foot deep in water.”

Using the payout from the insurance company, as well as some of their own money, the couple tried to fix the damage but could not keep the damp problem at bay.

They lost their tenants, leaving the house empty with little prospect of them finding the money to repair it.

“We were just so lost,” said Mr Smyth. “We were in denial over this house.

“We had tried so hard and spent thousands on it and it wasn’t slowing the problem.

“We couldn’t sell it, we couldn’t do it up and we were hoping it would just go away.”

But at the start of the year they were contacted by SLH, who offered a solution. The not-for-profit charitable organisation, which took over the region’s council houses last year, gave the couple a £20,000 maximum empty homes grant and oversaw the work to get it back up to scratch.

The building work was carried out by Ulverston-based UPM. SLH then offered the property at an affordable rent, securing the couple an income for the next five years. After that they get the property back in the same condition it is in now.

Mr Smyth said: “It’s a win-win – they have practically given us a new house. Now it looks really bright and airy and the tenants are overjoyed – it’s almost too good to be true.”

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