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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 July 2007, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
'You've got to show the blitz spirit'
Jon Kelly
BBC News, Evesham, Worcestershire

Port Street, Evesham. Picture: Stanley Grove
Homes and businesses across Evesham were damaged

One of the areas worst affected by the summer floods has been Evesham in Worcestershire, where at one stage the streets were submerged under six feet of water.

Local people described how their lives have been turned upside down.

As they surveyed the chaos that subsumed their community, the people of Evesham began to wonder whether nature was having a joke at their expense.

With the water flowing waist-deep through their streets, the sun shone brightly through a cloudless sky.

'Deluge'

But as the long, laborious process began of stripping sodden carpets, electrical goods and fittings from homes and business premises, the community knew all too well that the impact of this one bout of extreme weather would be felt for months.

Charlie Batt
Charlie Batt gave away free flowers which he had salvaged

This small market town has learned the hard way how easily its routine can be thrown into disarray by a sudden quirk of nature.

Perched on an elevated dry patch, Alan Booth, Evesham's mayor and landlord of the Angel Vaults pub, shook his head as he watched the flood water lap against the entrance to his bar.

"I can't really face going inside, to be honest," he admitted. "It's just too depressing.

"Sandbags are no use against a deluge like this. I knew what was coming on Friday night, so I had to kick out all of the drinkers."

Trapped guests

He grimaced. "They knew what was coming too. They didn't want to leave."

But the clear-up operation was not short of colour.

Round the corner, florist Charlie Batt, 53, was giving away free the few flowers he managed to salvage from his shop, where water levels had peaked inside at four feet.

Jean Vale
Jean Vale said she was determined to stay positive

On Saturday, he had been due to make a delivery to the town's Northwick Hotel - but had been unable to get through, as more than 30 guests were trapped in the upper floors after the river Avon bust its banks.

"A lot of people have helped out with the clear-up so far, so I wanted to show my appreciation to the community," he said.

"But flood or no flood, I've got bills to pay.

"Tomorrow we'll get a fresh batch of stock, and then we've got orders to deliver. We'll just have to find a way to carry on."

'Blitz spirit'

It was not only businesses which were counting the cost. Householders were returning to homes still soaking after the flood water had subsided.

As she surveyed the ruined sofa in her living room, pensioner Jean Vale, 66, admitted she was on the edge of tears.

"I feel like I'm two minutes away from crying," she said.

"But the only thing you can do is laugh. You've got to show the blitz spirit."

Adam Pokorski
Adam Pokorski said he was shell-shocked at the damage

When water lapped at Betty Burton's door on Friday she tried to show resilience.

The 66-year-old recalled: "I wanted to stick it out, but then I realised that the water was lapping through the floorboards.

"The fire brigade arrived in a dinghy and told me, 'You've got five minutes to get out.' I didn't have time to collect any clothes or move anything upstairs."

Next door, maintenance technician Adam Pokorski, 26, admitted he was still shell-shocked after returning to the house he has spent four years renovating.

"It's ironic, really, because I've only just finished putting the kitchen in," he sighed.

"Everyone says: you'll be fine because you're insured. But I did all this up myself. It won't be the same once a load of builders have refurbished it."

Adam looked outside at the sky, which had once again turned slate grey. The sun was obscured by clouds again. A few drops of rain began to fall.




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