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After the floods

PUBLISHED: 09:13 02 June 2014

Bob Tyler is repairing his house in Burrowbridge

Bob Tyler is repairing his house in Burrowbridge

Archant

The media spotlight has turned away from the flooded Somerset Levels but the villages affected are still dealing with the clear-up

Burrow Mump, with its ruined church standing tall above the flooded Somerset Levels, has become one of the iconic images of the floods. And sitting in its shadow at Burrowbridge is The King Alfred Inn, where the landlord organised donations of food during the crisis. Today, a banner strapped on the bridge tells residents of the Somerset Levels that although the waters rose, their ‘spirit had risen higher.’

Between 150 and 200 homes were flooded or evacuated in Somerset during the crisis but for many the struggle to get back to normal is not yet over.

Drive through Moorland and Fordgate now and you will see that even though the flood waters have receded, the after effects of the devastation continue.

Many residents have been told that they will not be able to live in their homes until Christmas.

In their hi-vis jackets, teams of volunteers are still there to help with the rebuilding of homes and lives.

FLAG (Flooding on the Levels Action Group) was instrumental during the emergency and still continues to provide support.

Press officer Rebecca Horsington explains: “FLAG stepped into the breach and answered calls for help via the Facebook page wall. This initially was for things like sandbagging, movement of animals, belongings and anything else that needed to happen in the immediate emergency. This was the organised into a spreadsheet of volunteer help and services, which was then passed onto Somerset County Council to co-ordinate.

“There are a great many volunteers who are now helping with the clear up of the villages and many more work to support those by providing food etc.”

Some of these volunteers come from Buckinghamshire, Slough and the Midlands – even Switzerland. The Prime Minister praised the efforts of international relief work organisation Khalsa Aid, during the Somerset floods.

Volunteers, council officers and agencies that worked around the clock to help residents have been thanked by Somerset County Council Leader, Cllr John Osman.

“The true heroes of the floods are the volunteers,” he said.

“The tractor drivers who, without being asked, turned up and provided transport, the farmers who gathered round to transport their neighbours’ cattle to safety, the residents who stepped forward to represent their communities and make their voices heard and the commercial companies who without being asked provided essential supplies.”

Cllr Osman also thanked the armed services, partners and agencies. “They knock on doors, check on people, provide a lifeline, crew our boat, pump away water, who do so many, many things that are so welcomed by residents.”

The first flood recovery firm to get into Moorland was Cornish firm Richfords Fire & Flood. One of the properties being recovered by its technicians was the church of St Peter and St John, which was open in time for Easter Sunday.

But the village hall is unusable and undergoing a huge refurbishment and this left people with a need for a welcoming community space. Local resident Adrian Dunbar organised a free mobile unit from Portakabin, Sedgemoor District Council arranged for it to be set up and The Community Council for Somerset has kitted out the hub – with help from several businesses and organisations.

While many residents are still unable to use their homes and are dealing with the clean up, the Moorland & Fordgate Community Hub is a space to find information, chat, have some time out, meet organisations such as the Somerset Village Agents or just take a welcome break and have a ‘cuppa’.

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