Residents who showed true grit in face of floods

Flooding closes roads in Earby
Flooding closes roads in Earby
  • 40 homes and 15 businesses flooded in Earby
  • Local derby football match cancelled
  • Barnoldswick volunteers build DIY barrier to save homes
  • Barrowford trader wades through water to save stock
  • Councillor continues to fight for action on blocked drains
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Deluge, devastation then determination, the sequence of emotions experienced in Pendle after flash floods over Christmas.

But from swelled rivers on Boxing Day, the Christmas period ended with swelling pride as community efforts combined with those of the emergency services right across the borough resulted in residents returning to their own homes and businesses back up and running.

Earby was the worst hit, with up to 40 homes and 15 businesses flooded out during prolonged downpours which saw water forced up through the drains. Businesses in Barrowford were also flooded out with owner of Scruples Menswear, Jan Dickinson, wading through 3ft of filthy floodwater in an effort to save as much stock as possible.

And Nelson FC’s festive fixture with local rivals Colne FC was postponed as the pitch at Little Wembley became a lake when Pendle Water burst its banks.

Meanwhile in Barnoldswick, volunteers turned out in their droves to build a wall of sandbags to prevent water on Ghyll playing fields cascading over on to the Ghyll Meadows housing estate below.

Jan, from Scruples, said: “When I arrived to open up, it was already under three feet of water and it was still rising. I had to make the decision about what to do before the water got too deep so I went in.

Manmade wall in Barnoldswick to prevent floodwater cascading across to the housing estate on the opposite side of the road. (S)

Manmade wall in Barnoldswick to prevent floodwater cascading across to the housing estate on the opposite side of the road. (S)

“I spent about an hour-and-a-half in the water trying to save as much as I could.

“I could actually see the water level rising, water was coming in so quickly.

“The water was cold but once the adrenaline kicked in it wasn’t too bad. I was just focused on saving as much stock as possible.

“If I had waited any longer the water would have been too deep and it would have been too dangerous to go in.

A fireman threw me over his shoulder. I didn’t mind that. Actually we were having a bit of a laugh. He was superb

Elsie Anderson (95)

“We’d like to thank everybody for all their help and time given on Boxing Day when our shop, Scruples, was flooded out. A special thank you to Phil and Tracy Punchard from Flair Interiors. Really appreciate your hard work and kindness.

“Many thanks also to all the well wishers and loyal customers who have kindly offered their services too.”

Coun. Vera Cocker from Earby Town Council said: “Victoria Street in its entirety, Albion Road, the Co-op end of Victoria Road and Boot Street Mills were all affected.

“The Community Centre is doing sterling work and opened its doors on Boxing Day to house and feed the affected people and also look after the many wonderful volunteers who turned out. The response was amazing.

Pendle Water breaks its banks in Reedley

Pendle Water breaks its banks in Reedley

“The Fire Service was wonderful and two of our farmers turned out with drain clearing machinery on their tractors.”

Most rivers rose to record levels. New Cut in Earby peaked at 2.008m at 2pm on Boxing Day, breaking a near 14-year record of 1.609m dating back to February 11th, 2002.

At Pendle Water’s gauge at Reedyford, the river touched 3.670m at 8-45am, more than half a metre higher than previous highest of 3.069m on January 21st, 2008.

Colne Water at Carry Bridge reached 2.339m at 7-45m, smashing the previous highest of 1.472m on November 4th, 2010, although Colne and Trawden and the other usual hotspot of Foulridge largely avoided the worst of the flooding.

Ninety-five-year-old Elsie Anderson was stranded in her Victoria Street home in Earby and was carried by a fireman to the safety of her neighbour Sue Farnell’s house in Skipton Road, the third time this has happened. Elsie said: “At the moment I’m just numb. We have had this before but it’s a long time ago. This was the worst I’ve seen round here in my lifetime. It was awful.

“I don’t know if I have lost anything. The carpets will have to come up but what else, I don’t know.

Scruples in Barrowford was flooded out during the Boxing Day downpour. (S)

Scruples in Barrowford was flooded out during the Boxing Day downpour. (S)

“A fireman threw me over his shoulder. I didn’t mind that. Actually we were having a bit of a laugh. He was superb.”

Doris Haigh, spent Boxing Day in New Road Community Centre with her three dogs after her Albion Road home flooded.

She said: “I was in York and received a call saying ‘Doris, I don’t want to worry you but your house is flooding’.

“Then I saw a pic on Facebook and I thought ‘I’m going home’. I never really thought it would get it but I had forgotten the side door.

“I have four lodgers, all of whom were homeless for one reason or another, and they managed to get as much stuff upstairs as they could.

“I’m absolutely gobsmacked with the amount of stuff which has been donated. People have been so kind and generous and the community spirit in Earby has really come to the fore.”

Andy Shutt, from Earby Fitness Mill, said: “It was 2ft high inside. We couldn’t get over from Burnley until Sunday. We could be looking at many thousands of pounds of damage and we’ve just found out the insurance won’t cover it as we’re in a red flag area.

“Most of the machinery just needed cleaning but we need to wait for some bits to dry out to see if the electronics are damaged. We have a had a lot of support and the volunteers have been absolutely brilliant.”

Josh Connor, a co-ordinator of the community effort in Earby, said: “We very quickly got up and running on Boxing Day, making brews for people, and making sandwiches from food donated by the good folk of Earby and the Co-op for those clearing up.

“We have had a tremendous amount donated; clothing, food, furniture, household goods. Since Boxing Day we have continued to support people. It’s been draining but absolutely fantastic.

“The community spirit in Earby has been brilliant. It’s been nice to help and people have really appreciated it.

“We have had support from businesses for example, Wolfenden’s are supplying sand for more sandbags and cottages.com have supplied dehumidifiers.

“Thank you to all of the volunteers and those who have donated.”

A charity page has been set up to raise cash to help those in earby left devastated by the floods - click here to donate

Coun. David Whipp, who represents West Craven, has praised volunteers, emergency services and council staff for their response to the Boxing Day flooding, but is asking for greater efforts from Lancashire County Council.

Coun. Whipp said: “In West Craven, despite the heroic efforts of volunteers, more than 50 homes and businesses were flooded in Earby and there’s a fantastic community response with the recovery operation.

“At Barnoldswick, a small army of volunteers were luckier in saving dozens of homes at Ghyll Meadows by building a DIY barrier against the rising water.

“I’d like to say a massive ‘Thank You’ to everyone who played a part in fighting the floods and those who’ve worked since Boxing Day to help people recover from the disaster of flooded homes and businesses. My heart goes out to all the people affected by this terrible event.

“Where work can be done to reduce the risk of flooding in future, I’ll do my utmost to see that it happens.

“The floods have underlined how vital the proposed multi-million pound flood prevention scheme is in Earby.

“There’s a crucial meeting early in the new year where it’s important we get the first green light for the first stage of work.

“Elsewhere, there may be smaller flood alleviation schemes that can be carried out with local resources, and I’ll be pushing for those to happen, too.

“I’m also urging Lancashire County Council to act on blocked culverts and road drains, which still haven’t been dealt with weeks after first being requested.”

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Doris Haigh in her flooded Earby home.

Doris Haigh in her flooded Earby home.

Some of the piles of clothing, household goods and furniture donated to people of Earby.

Some of the piles of clothing, household goods and furniture donated to people of Earby.

Barrowford

Barrowford

Earby

Earby

Earby flooding

Earby flooding