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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Businesses hit by flood devastation

TO say 2012 has been a wet year is an understatement of biblical proportions.

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FLOOD DAMAGE: Owner Alex Mitton cleans up at Little Rascals nursery in Ulverston MILTON HAWORTH REF: 50041506B001

Across the country it is on course to be the wettest year since records began in 1910.

From Barrow to Bootle, Millom to Marton and Ulverston to Urswick, countless roads, homes and businesses were subject to flooding.

For many people the torrential rain caused only minor aggravation in the forms of traffic delays, leaking roofs or flooded yards.

But for some unfortunate householders and business owners, the consequences of the floods in June, August and November were far more serious and long-lasting.

Residents have been driven out of their homes and businesses forced to find new premises as they chase insurance money to rebuild.

With each flood, pressure mounted on authorities such as Cumbria Highways, United Utilities and the Environment Agency over their handling of the incidents.

Dalton mayor Barry Doughty, who saw first-hand the anger and confusion of people affected by the floods, said lessons needed to be learned from this year’s events.

He said he was hopeful that a meeting held in Ulverston a fortnight ago between all the parish councils, county council, utility agencies, the Environment Agency, police and local MP John Woodcock would result in an action plan that residents could easily follow in instances of flooding.

“My frustration was that people have tried to call up different agencies only to be told it’s the responsibility of somebody else,” he said.

“People get passed around and around and around. To be fair to people, it’s very much like a bereavement... and they get angry and frustrated.

“We won’t be able to solve the (flooding) problem, but it may give people better information about what to do and where to phone.”

But Cllr Doughty said the “unprecedented” rainfall this year meant there was a limit to what any authority or agency could do in such extreme circumstances.

“It’s been very, very unusual,” he said. “Our antiquated systems can’t cope with the amount of water that we’ve had.”

Rascals Day Nursery in Ulverston was one of the worst-hit during the November floods, when a river of water flowed down Lund Terrace and into the building.

The damage bill ran into the tens of thousands of pounds and nursery manager Alex Mitton had to close for nearly a week until she could secure temporary tenure at Lanternhouse in The Ellers.

But compared to many businesses, the nursery was able to begin its long road to recovery quickly through an interim pay-out from Ecclesiastical Insurance.

“The new premises are great and the children like them, as do the staff and parents,” she said.

“The Lund Terrace building is being dried out and we’re hoping that process is going to be finished just before Christmas.

“Tenders have gone out for builders for the refurbishment and are due back in the new year and we’re hoping to start the refurbishment straightaway.

“We’re hoping to be back in by the end of March, which is a lot quicker than the last time we were flooded.”

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