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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 January, 2005, 19:40 GMT
Community spirit shines through
By Judith Moritz
BBC correspondent in Carlisle

Dozens of Carlisle's streets have turned into rivers, homes and businesses have been flooded and the city's police and fire stations are temporarily out of service.

Rescuers in Carlisle
The floods saw boats used by rescue workers in Carlisle

However, what is also notable about flood-hit Carlisle is how everyone has pulled together.

Hundreds of residents managed to make their own way to safer ground, but it is not only the police and fire services that have been sending out boats to rescue those stranded.

Volunteers with a dinghy to hand have helped evacuate the elderly, the young and the ill who cannot make their way safely through the city's flooded streets.

Rescue workers spent the weekend ferrying boats up and down streets, moving people and pets away from the worst-hit areas.

With phones cut off, many of those unable to leave their homes had to resort to shouting for help from upstairs windows.

The water was up to my waist. I just wanted to get away and get warm
Liz Cawthorne

In some cases RAF sea rescue helicopters were sent out to hover over homes, and carry people to safety.

There were some people who tried not to leave, waiting for the floods to subside.

But hundreds spent a long, miserable and cold night in their homes and found water levels were rising too fast and becoming that much more dangerous.

Liz Cawthorne had to stay upstairs whilst the downstairs of her home flooded.

"I'm just shell-shocked, absolutely shell-shocked at the moment. The water was up to my waist. I just wanted to get away and get warm really," Mrs Cawthorne said.

So like all of Carlisle's evacuated residents she left her home with few belongings.

At least two reception centres are operating in the city, providing warmth, food and a roof.

A number of people also found such comforts at the homes of friends and relatives who have not been affected by the floods.

You get an understanding of Carlisle's positive community spirit by talking to families forced to leave.

One man I spoke to is eager to return home as soon as possible, but at the same time he is glad that his family and almost everyone in the city is safe and well.

He said he will start worrying about his house and its contents when the time comes.




SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Storm sweeps UK
08 Jan 05 |  Photo Gallery


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