Page last updated at 19:13 GMT, Wednesday, 10 October 2007 20:13 UK

Devastating legacy of summer floods

By Catherine Marston
BBC News

British insurers have said that they might not be able to provide people with cover against flooding despite the government pledging 800m a year to upgrade defences.

Meanwhile, the effects of this summer's severe floods are still being felt acutely in some parts of the country.

Hobson family
The Hobsons have been forced to move to the other side of town

Pete and Karrie Hobson have come back to their home in Toll Bar, three months after flood water practically destroyed everything they own.

The house is a shell. It has no floor, no plaster on the walls, and even the staircase has to be stripped out in the coming weeks.

Dehumidifiers are in every room, sucking the moisture out of the air. Pete says he has to empty them almost every day.

The family has moved five times since the floods. They had to leave everything behind as the water began to fill their home.

They had nowhere to go so ended up in emergency accommodation at the local leisure centre.

Since then they've packed up what little they salvaged and moved on several times and are now in a house on the other side of Doncaster, away from family, friends and the children's school.

It's been a time of turmoil and stress for the couple and their three children. They are feeling slightly more settled now but still believe a great deal of their suffering could have been prevented.

Difficult and stressful

"I'd like to know why it took so long for the drains to be cleaned," says Pete.

"Now they're out everyday in the counties cleaning drains, why couldn't it be like that years before, like it used to be, it could have prevented it."

The Hobsons' home
Mr Hobson attends to a dehumidifier drying out their home

It's easy to see why the floods have brought so much frustration. It's made even the most basic of tasks for victims difficult and stressful.

The couple have moved their children into a new school and nursery because they are just too far away from Toll Bar.

The council offered a taxi to pick up their four-year-old daughter every day and take her to and from Toll Bar school.

Pete and Karrie feel that it's just not acceptable for their daughter to travel alone and say a proper school minibus would help them so much. But that is not an option, so they're trying to make the best of it.

Quality of life

As they wander around Toll Bar the couple become angry about the amount of rubbish they find in gardens and skips. It's all from the clean up after the floods.

Pete says the process just hasn't been quick enough and it's affecting people's quality of life.

His garden is piled high with carpet and curtains and white goods. It's all contaminated by the sewage in the flood water, and by toxic mould that grew on the furniture and walls after the water had gone.

"Outside my house it's horrendous," he says. "I've been phoning for two months now to get rid of it."

Much of the government review of what might have gone wrong seems so irrelevant to the family as they assess the damage to their home.

Questions answered

The big issues of flood defences and warnings are all part of the overall picture, but to families like the Hobsons, their questions are much more fundamental.

Why didn't they get much more help in those vital first few hours as the flood water poured in?

Why didn't they get the right help to keep their children at their local school?

And why is it taking so long to get the building work and the clean up started?

Those are the questions they want answered.

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