FEATURE: Moorland clean-up continues as residents reveal true damage of floods

FEATURE: Moorland clean-up continues as residents reveal true damage of floods

Lorraine and Adrian Broad pile their possessions outside their home. Photo: Jeff Searle

Phil Smithen has been trying to get the furniture out of his Moorland home. Photo: Jeff Searle

Photo: Jeff Searle

Photo: Jeff Searle

Photo: Jeff Searle

Members of FLAG help clear the furniture for the rubbish pile. Photo: Jeff Searle

First published in News Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News: Photograph of the Author by

FURNITURE, fridges, mattresses and memories have been piled up outside homes in Moorland, ready to be taken away and destroyed.

Families dealing with the aftermath of the floods have had insurance assessors in over the past week; to tell them what needs to be ripped from their homes and disposed of and what little can be saved.

Outside one home, Lorraine Broad stared at a mouldy heap of furniture piled up on her drive as FLAG volunteers began dragging things off for the tip.

She said: “I've lived here for 20 years and the contents of my life is piled up in my front garden.

“The only thing that can be salvaged is a large mirror, because it was too high for the water to reach.

“The whole house has been stripped of furniture and the bathroom and kitchen will need to come out. We'll need new windows and doors and the cavity wall insulation needs to be checked. We also lost some family photos.

“My daughter, who is 17, was devastated. She would not return to the house for a week after because she didn't want to see it in this condition.”

In Lorraine's case, her insurance company has said it will pay for everything apart from some fences, which washed away down the village.

One insurance assessor told the Mercury he has been working in the job for a decade and the scene at Moorland is the worst he has ever witnessed.

Lorraine's husband Adrian described the chaos when the villagers were told they needed to leave their homes.

He said: “When they came to evacuate us, the roads were full of traffic and there were helicopters flying overhead telling us to get out. But there was no water at the time.

“We left the next day and returned after with a dingy, which allowed us to access the house and saved some laptops, TVs and clothing.”

Lorraine said the water came up very quickly and suddenly with a lot of force. She said: “There was no water on the Friday, but on Saturday there was about 2ft of it.

“We feel we were set up as scapegoats, so they could flood Moorland to save Bridgwater and Taunton.”

Another resident, Phil Smithen has also been stacking furniture outside his 160-year-old cottage, while desperately trying to dry it out.

He said: “We're trying to salvage what we can. We saved up many years to afford some oak furniture and I'm hoping some of it can be restored.

“But the bottom half of the new kitchen, which was around £10,000, will have to come out.

“When we bought his house it was on the verge of being condemned and we've worked hard to get it the way we like it. I heard some homes in the village will need to be demolished. But we have been here 40 years and to take it down would push us over the edge. It contains so many memories.”

Mr Smithen, who is an ex-head teacher of Bridgwater's Somerset Bridge Primary School, praised the work of volunteers.

He said: “One of my ex-pupils, Matt Dunbar, organised for a group of volunteers to help get the carpets up. They've been marvellous.

“The support from other residents has also been fantastic and this disaster has united us all.”

He is calling for a plan to be set in place to prevent such an event happening again, and says dredging and establishing a barrage should be priority.

For flooding advice, visit Public Health England via www.hpa.org.uk.

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