Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Monday, 17 December 2007

Keeping their heads above water

Pete Lancaster and Kate Parkinson [pictured in July]
Pete Lancaster and Kate Parkinson lost many possessions in the floods
The interim report into the summer floods in England says the public should have been better prepared for the waves of water that invaded their homes.

Sir Michael Pitt, the report's author, also said the public needed to act responsibly, and he urged them to have an emergency kit in their houses.

But not everyone agrees with that point of view, including Pete Lancaster, 46, who lives in a cottage with his partner Kate Parkinson in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

Their home was badly flooded in July, with the downstairs area vanishing under several feet of water, which ruined furniture, kitchen units, electrical appliances and flooring.

Mr Lancaster thinks that telling people to be more prepared for a flood and take responsibility is "passing the buck".

He said: "The property I live in had never been flooded before so I wouldn't have known to prepare for floods.

Overall there's a limited amount people can do, which local authorities can do and which they charge us for
Pete Lancaster

"It wasn't even flooded in 1947, which was when the last bad floods were. I knew of a lot of people who were flooded in July for the first time.

"It's like saying you should be prepared for an earthquake.

"The reason we were flooded was down to a combination of factors. It was an extreme patch of weather exacerbated by the local authority failing to do certain things, like cleaning out the drains.

"Also, houses had been built on flood plains which moved the water that would have been soaked into the ground down into the town instead."

Preventative measures

Mr Lancaster is still living on bare concrete floors in his cottage, five months after the damage was first done, but he hopes to get proper flooring down this week.

He also said that those people in his town who had been flooded were preparing for floods in future.

"A lot of people are talking about it and some are saying they will put barriers in their doorways. People will take some responsibility.

Alan Cresswell [pictured in July]
Mr Cresswell says Tewkesbury's floods were unpreventable

"But overall there's a limited amount people can do, which local authorities can do and which they charge us for."

Alan Cresswell runs a barber's shop in Tewkesbury which was heavily flooded. At one point it was a foot and a half under water at street level, with a flooded cellar and a collapsed floor at the back.

It has now been restored with new floors, wiring and wallpaper and is "absolutely tip top", according to Mr Cresswell.

He does not think that any measure of prevention could have halted the extreme flooding that swamped Tewkesbury.

'A disaster'

"I think it was unpreventable. The volume of rain that we had in the weeks before meant the ground was absolutely saturated.

"I've never seen rain like that before. Once it came over the tops of those river banks there was nothing you could do to prevent that tidal wave hitting the town. It was a disaster."

Mr Cresswell thinks that having an emergency kit of sorts in a house is generally good practice.

"It would make sense to keep blankets and a torch, not just for floods but for anything that might happen.

"People in my barber shop have been talking about the reasons for the flooding and they've often talked about flood plains.

"I know the rivers round here, and there's 15ft of silt that has built up since the mills were all closed and it hasn't been cleared out, which would make the problem worse.

"But I still think that the flooding was unpreventable."



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