FEATURE: Moorland begins flood clean-up

Chard & Ilminster News: Sam Notaro's Moorland home surrounded by flood water Sam Notaro's Moorland home surrounded by flood water

THE clean-up operation has finally begun in Moorland after flood water levels dropped around 4ft this week, allowing residents to once again walk around their village.

But the absence of the murky water has only revealed the devastation left in its wake, as Mercury reporter Kirsty James saw first-hand when she and photographer Jeff Searle caught up with residents.

Everywhere you look in Moorland there are reminders that the village has been under water for weeks. Bits of rubbish and clothing are strewn across lawns, walls have toppled under the pressure of the water and some cars are still propped up on bricks.

The main feature is a dirty mark which runs waist height across everything, from bushes to buildings; a reminder of just how high the flood water reached.

The only water left now is leading into the village, which can be passed with a 4x4; a change from the amphibious vehicle which had been used to transport residents and food into and out of the 'disaster zone'.

Looking at the inside of Paul Selway's Moorland home, 'disaster' seems an appropriate word to describe the events and destruction brought by the flooding.

Paul has been busy sorting through his valued possessions and memories. Some can be restored, like his antique wooden furniture, but other items cannot be saved.

He said: "I'm hoping the rosewood furniture can be restored, but I'm not sure about an antique chair which was given to my wife for her 50th birthday.

"There's mould on everything, the plaster is coming off the walls and the wooden doors do not shut because the water has caused the wood to expand. The wall sockets have leaked a brown gunge and the electrics need to be rewired.

"But there are around 100 homes here and we're all in the same situation."

Paul said a company is coming to take his furniture soon, but he doesn't think the removal vans are going to be able to get over the humps which have been created to allow access over the pumps.

He added: "The authorities have made plans to react to the floods, but there needs to be a plan in place for the clean-up."

Paul has been able to stay in his motor-home, but others have been forced to find an alternative.

Russell and Janet Young have been staying in rented accommodation, which their insurance company has paid for.

They were assessing the damage to their home this week. Russell said: "The house has been under water for at least ten days and everything which has been in that water will need to go.

"The fitted cupboards in the kitchen will need to come out and the plaster needs to come off. It will just be a shell when it's done.

"The insurance has been so good and really helpful. We've been OK so far and I think it has helped that the Government has put pressure on insurance companies to pay up for flooding damage."

It will be a long while before Moorland is back to its original state. Sandbags and barricades are everywhere; leftover from the fight residents and volunteers put up to lessen the chaos.

Volunteers from the FLAG action group are still on site, along with an increased police presence.

FLAG volunteer Stuart Smith said: "I've been helping here for around four weeks now. We did sandbagging people's homes, removed 35 cars from flood water, helped people access the village, helped them recover possessions and we have set up a recycling centre."

FLAG made a deal with Viridor to manage the waste and dispose of it safely.

Stuart added: "We've cleared out some fridges - which was vile. We've also been able to clear some debris from the roads.

"The residents are so grateful for the help and we are continuing to work with them in the clean-up."

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

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