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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Flood victims devastated

SCORES of flood victims in south Ulverston have suffered devastating effects to their homes.

And those who yesterday narrowly avoided the deluge were dreading they were next, with more downpours scheduled for the weekend.

North Lonsdale Road was yesterday under more than 1ft of water between Kennedy Street and the Steel Street turn-off, while Steel Street itself was badly flooded in places.

Jean Wilkinson, of North Lonsdale Road, was severely affected.

The entire ground floor of her home was floating in rainwater and her husband, recovering from a stroke, was scheduled to return from hospital yesterday afternoon.

Mrs Wilkinson said: “I couldn’t sleep at all last night. I was hot one minute and cold the next – the doctor said that was with the shock.

“My house is flooded right through from front to back. My husband is in hospital but how do I get him home? He is supposed to be coming out today after he had a stroke.

“All my carpets are under all that water and my two settees are drenched.

“My fridge freezer will be no good. My washer and my tumble dryer, they’ll be no good either.

“It was all so quick in the end. I thought ‘it’s raining hard’ and next thing it was coming into the wet room at the back. Even the toilets were not flushing, it was just coming back up.”

Robert Frankland, also of North Lonsdale Road, said it was the worst flood in his 20 years at the address. He and his wife were up all night after water first leaked in at 11.30pm on Thursday.

He said yesterday: “It was coming over my wellies last night – now it’s a couple of inches lower.

“Our carpets are ruined, our suites as well. In the kitchen it’s half way up the fridge, the washer, the dryer and the freezer, which is full of food.

“We put most of our stuff upstairs in the bedroom but we couldn’t lift the suite and such like.”

A thousand emergency sandbags were delivered to the South Lakeland District Council depot in North Lonsdale Road at 6.10pm on Thursday, while some were also dropped off in Brewery Street car park.

SLDC opened a relief centre in Ulverston Victoria High School, but few attended.

Businesses were yesterday unaffected, apart from GW Waite in North Lonsdale Road, which had to close on Thursday afternoon and did not open yesterday.

Paul Raby and a colleague from nearby Builders Supply Company Ulverston volunteered until 3am, forklifting 300 company sandbags to needy residents.

Mr Raby was scathing of the level of emergency help for residents.

He said yesterday: “It was absolute joke, it was badly handled. It was the lack of presence. Police stopped people at each end of the road but apart from that they (residents) just got abandoned.

“There was a woman walking up the street at 3am this morning crying her eyes out wading through the water looking for someone to help her.

“The floods were no surprise – it was made clear it was a high tide at 1am this (yesterday) morning and the forecast said how bad it would be.”

Mr Raby added there had been a real community spirit in response to the floods.

He said: “There were people whose houses had flooded and they left their own homes to try and help some others.”Janet Crowe, whose North Lonsdale Road home was yesterday still dry, claimed SLDC’s plan to build an industrial estate in the street would add to the flood problem.

But Councillor Graham Vincent, SLDC boss for economic prosperity, said: “The development will not go ahead unless developers can demonstrate they have liaised with the Environment Agency and addressed the concerns over flooding, and done the same with the Highways Agency for concerns over traffic and parking.”

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said: “We have seen unprecedented levels of rain fall over the past few days.

“Over a foot of rain, 400mm, has fallen on the North West in the last 48 hours. As a result river levels have risen dramatically.

“This, combined with a high tide, has prevented Dragley Beck in Ulverston from flowing into the sea as would it would in normal weather conditions.

“As a result, the Beck has over-topped and there has been some flooding to properties in the Steel Street area of the town.

“The Environment Agency is aware the local authority have been evacuating residents from the area.”

IN Ambleside, tonight’s Christmas lights switch-on has been cancelled due to significant flooding at Rothay Park, where the fireworks finale normally takes place.

Also Windermere Lake Cruises, which usually sails Santa to Ambleside for the event, has suspended all cruises this weekend due to high water levels.

In Coniston, homes were flooded at Yewdale Bridge, Kirkbeck Lane and some sections of The Garth.

The Bluebird Cafe by the lake and the factory units in Lake Road were also under water.

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