Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Why Weren't We Warned? VICTIMS HOMELESS FOR MONTHS FLOOD AFTERMATH: FAMILIES CLAIM THEY WERE LET DOWN BY THE SYSTEM WHICH UNDERESTIMATED THE DOWNPOUR DANGERS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Why Weren't We Warned? VICTIMS HOMELESS FOR MONTHS FLOOD AFTERMATH: FAMILIES CLAIM THEY WERE LET DOWN BY THE SYSTEM WHICH UNDERESTIMATED THE DOWNPOUR DANGERS

Article excerpt

Byline: BY SARA NICHOL And KATY SIMPSON

FLOOD victims who have been left homeless are facing Christmas in bed and breakfasts.

In Morpeth hotels and B&Bs are filling up with people made refugees by the weekend's downpours.

When the River Wans beck burst its banks on Saturday, the Northumberland town suffered the worst floozds since records began.

And as the clean-up operation gets under way, the extent of the devastation is becoming clear. It could be months before many flood victims are able to return home.

Staff at Castle Morpeth Borough Council are working round the clock to find temporary accommodation for stranded residents, many of whom are currently camped out with friends and family.

One of the families to take refuge in a B&B, is Margaret Smith, husband Ian and sons, Callum, 17, Jake, 15, and 10- year-old Kieren.

Their Mitford Road home has been ruined by the flood waters. But friend Elaine Lishman offered them two rooms at her Riverside Bed and Breakfast on New gate Street.

Mrs Smith, 46, who works for the Department of Works and Pensions, said: "I'd say we're looking at staying in rented accommodation for a minimum of six months.

"It was devastating at first to think we would be living out of our home for that length of time but I've come to terms with it now. The main thing is we will all be together.

"I remember that horrible feeling when my front door burst open and water flooded in. It took three of us to close the door. The bottom floor of the house is wrecked."

Mitford Road neighbours Ally and Archie Waterston have been told they could be stuck in temporary accommodation for up to a year. They have taken up residence in the Queens Head Hotel, with two-year-old son Daniel who has asthma.

Midwife Ally, 38, said: "We are able to stay at the Queens Head for the next two weeks and then we hope to rent somewhere.

"Builders came to assess the damage and said it would take between six months and a year to finish the work.

"The whole of the downstairs needs to be pulled out down to the foundations, and it takes six months for it to dry out. …

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