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Last Updated: Monday, 23 July 2007, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Taps run dry in flood-hit city
By Jon Kelly
BBC News, Gloucester

Mark Boyce
Mark Boyce scoured Gloucester for a camping stove to brew tea
The summer floods have left thousands of people without access to water in their homes.

In Gloucester, where householders have seen their taps run dry, residents described how they are coping.

The irony of the situation is not lost on the people of Gloucester.

Their city is overwhelmed with water, but there is not enough to drink.

Surreal sight

Rising floods closed down the local treatment works, and now every home in the city has been told it will lose its fresh water supply.

And although Gloucester itself has experienced heavy flooding of its own - as well as a steady drizzle of rain - local authorities are having to act as though the area was suffering from a drought.

It is a surreal sight. Bottled water is being handed out and water tanks have been set up in residential roads, as though temperatures were soaring and reservoirs were running dry.

Nicki Boyce
It's all a big adventure, isn't it? That's the way you've got to look at it
Nicki Boyce

To make matters worse, 43,000 homes in the city have been left without power after an electricity substation had to be switched off.

But citizens of Gloucester refuse to be beaten.

Mark Boyce, a 48-year-old utilities consultant, could not face the prospect of getting through the crisis without any cups of tea when he learned both his electricity and water were to be cut off.

So while his wife Nicki, also 48, filled every pot and pan in the house with tapwater before supplies ran out, he scoured local shops until he tracked down the very last camping stove on sale in Gloucester.

Cup that cheers

"There was no way I could have coped with all this if I couldn't have a cuppa," he says.

"I don't think all this is too big a deal, really. If you've got a sense of humour you should be able to cope."

Indeed, promoter Nicki admits that a part of her is enjoying the drama of the occasion.

"It's all a big adventure, isn't it? That's the way you've got to look at it.

"People went through much worse in the war. It's not all that much of a hardship if you compare this to what's going on in other parts of the world."

Helena Misiura
All day I've been playing board games with my little brother - I suppose it's quite refreshing not knowing what's going on
Helena Misiura

Others agree that the situation has its advantages.

Archaeologist Phil Greatorex, 45, was sent home early from his work at Gloucester City Museum, which was forced to close because of the lack of power.

"It's nice to get home early," he laughs. "Although I've taken home lots of paperwork that I need to catch up on, so it isn't too much of a holiday.

"I've got a gas oven in here, so I can heat up water from the bowsers if I need to cook or wash. There's always a way to improvise."

The public were warned not to panic-buy water and food - but few heeded their advice.

Newsagent Ruth Fleet, 52, has seen business boom.

Working by candlelight and with a pen and a paper instead of a till, customers have been grabbing what they can.

'Sure I'll survive'

"They've been coming in for water and milk, mostly, anything you can drink", she says. "Carrying it by the armload. I can't complain too much. But then again we were flooded on Friday, so what comes around goes around."

Student Helena Misiura, 17, raced to her local shops to buy 21 bottles of mineral water when she heard what was in store.

"I've definitely got enough to last me for a few days - I'm pretty sure I'll survive.

"The only problem is that my radio and TV aren't working because of the lack of electricity, so I can't hear the news.

"All day I've been playing board games with my little brother - I suppose it's quite refreshing not knowing what's going on."

It is a change of scene that most of her neighbours will not want to see last, however.


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