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Friday, 9 February, 2001, 17:54 GMT
Blitz spirit in flood-hit town
Anne Long
Anne Long 's Anchor Inn has been closed since October
Kent has endured one of the wettest winters in living memory forcing hundreds from their homes and causing incalculable damage to people's lives and businesses.

After yet another damaging deluge on Thursday night, BBC News Online's Margaret Ryan went to speak to those living in one of the nation's worst-hit flood regions.

Yalding is a beautiful picturesque village in the heart of the Kent countryside but its peaceful tranquillity belies the hardship that repeated flooding has caused.

David and Brenda Rigby
David and Brenda Rigby left with two carrier bags after 36 years of marriage
Families have lost everything and businesses have seen their livelihoods threatened as rivers have continued to burst their banks.

On Thursday, fields were again waterlogged and two rivers, the Beult and the Teise, were still on flood alert.

Anne Long, who runs the Anchor Inn pub with her husband Henry, knows more than most what havoc the floods have caused.

Their pub and hotel has been closed to customers since the October floods.

'Idyllic spot'

"This is an idyllic spot. This is the end of the rainbow for publicans, a wonderful pub by the river.

"You can't put a pin between the number of people here in the summer."

But Mrs Long, 64, said they lost everything in October when flooding caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

She was busy painting the pub on Friday as builders were unable to get through the floodwater.

Tony and Patricia Slade
Tony and Patricia Slade had been planning their early retirement
But she is determined that the pub she has been running for 14 years will be up and running again by the summer.

And this dogged determination is evident with residents and businesses alike.

Tony and Patricia Slade were preparing for their early retirement having sold their bungalow to move into a mobile home on a caravan park near Yalding station.

But three weeks after buying their new home, and before they even had a chance to move in, they fell victim to the floods.


It is nature - nothing can be done

Jeffrey Hurst
They lost 1,200 worth of furniture and have been in rented accommodation since October.

Mrs Slade said: "It was a fresh start and we were looking forward to it."

Their new neighbours David and Brenda Rigby were evacuated in October and have been housed in a school and hotel only to be evacuated again on Thursday.

"We left with two carrier bags after 36 years of marriage," said Mrs Rigby speaking about the October floods.

Jane Corteen, 36, has lived on the caravan park for nearly two years with her partner and five-year-old son James.

James and Jane Corteen
Jane Corteen: "The flooding just seems to be coming and coming"
She said: "The flooding just seems to be coming and coming."

But Jeffrey Hurst, a marina owner, is stoical about the floods.

"It is nature - nothing can be done."

Since he started his business 25 years ago he has often seen flooding but he said what made the latest weather unprecedented was that by mid-February the area would have seen four months of continual rain and flooding.

Pub landlady Mrs Long said there was a blitz spirit.

Certainly there are countless stories of neighbours rallying round with food and shelter.

Romance

Yalding is just one of the many areas affected by the recent spate of flooding.

Each rainfall seems to bring more tales of misery and homes and farmland water logged.

And it is not yet over for the village of Yalding as more rain is forecast for Sunday.

But even floods could not prevent one determined romantic.

Tony Kelly negotiated the floods to drive from Brighton to Yalding to reach kennels where he bought his girlfriend a cocker spaniel in time for Valentine's Day.

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See also:

31 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Call for flood 'czar' to speed defences
15 Dec 00 | UK
New flood danger looms
14 Dec 00 | Education
Floods go on the syllabus
08 Dec 00 | UK
Two die as floods return
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