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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 July 2006, 23:18 GMT 00:18 UK
'It's been a year and we are tired'
In July 2005, a 130mph tornado damaged hundreds of homes and businesses in Birmingham. One year on, BBC News spoke to two people left homeless by the storm.

MARCUS PARSONS, ALDER ROAD, BALSALL HEATH

Marcus Parsons, a 34-year-old drugs worker, was only able to move back to his home in Alder Road, Balsall Heath, at Easter, eight months after the tornado struck.

Marcus Parsons outside his home with an action plan drawn up by residents
Mr Parsons said he wants a response from the council
He is unhappy with the repair work inside and lack of street lighting outside and the general decline in the area after the city's worst natural disaster.

"When the tornado hit I was already having a nightmare weekend after missing part of a friend's wedding in Slovakia and losing my luggage.

"So, when we got back and a friend told me my house had been hit by a tornado I didn't believe him.

"It was my first home. I bought it four weeks before the tornado hit and it was brand new but, in hindsight, I should have bought a derelict house because I am worse off now.

"Because it was such a long time before my insurance company got their act together there was no cover over the house where the roof once was and it just became sodden.

"When we moved back straight away we had problems. My heating didn't work, a neighbour had no water, there was a coating of dust over everything inside, we had no light bulbs and I have damp in my walls now and I didn't before. Even now, we still don't have any street lighting.

"The residents got together to sort out the insurance and building work after the tornado and we have now put together an action plan and presented it to the council but nothing has happened.

"It's been a year and we have tried desperately to resolve things but we are now tired and have had enough."

JOHN NEWSON, ALDER ROAD, BALSALL HEATH

John Newson
Mr Newson only recently moved back into his home

John Newson is one of the founders of Tornado Affected Neighbourhood Group (Tang) and moved back into his home in Alder Road, Balsall Heath, almost exactly a year after the tornado.

He is critical of Birmingham City Council's response to the disaster and is concerned about the number of residents that have struggled to get back on their feet.

"The tornado tore the roofs off the houses and destroyed bedrooms essentially.

"It has taken a long time for repairs and I'm afraid some firms have made a lot of money out of our roofs.

"A lot of tiles turned out to have an asbestos component and my house had to be completely decontaminated throughout before builders were allowed in - it took 11 months to rebuild.

"Some people still have weeks to go before they move back and there have also been arguments with builders about the quality of their work.

We still need street lights, trees, fences, open spaces

"But that all applies to those who have insurance of course, those that didn't or whose landlord didn't are in a worse position and those buildings are not habitable.

"It affected people from all sorts of areas and ethnic groups and we have been meeting regularly ever since and look after each other.

"We formed Tang so we could argue our case in the long term as this is one of the most socially deprived wards in Britain.

"We still need street lights, trees, fences, open spaces which is really the council's responsibility.

"My advice to anyone who has a natural disaster in their town is go to the leader of their council and pester them until you get a meeting and ask for an action plan for the reconstruction of the area."

BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL STATEMENT

"We are aware of concerns raised by residents in the area of Alder Road and have arranged a meeting with their representative to discuss these further.

"Many of the homes are owned by Focus Housing Association, who are still carrying out major repair works.

"Until this is complete and the associated disruption ceases it is impractical to begin work on improving the street scenery or cleansing. However, as soon as we are able to tackle these areas they will addressed as a priority.

"We have taken measures to ensure essential services, such as street lighting, are fully operational. "




SEE ALSO
Tornado response 'was too slow'
01 Feb 06 |  West Midlands
Tornado homes still uninhabitable
27 Jan 06 |  West Midlands
Tornado area's 260m revamp plans
05 Jan 06 |  West Midlands
Is Brum Britain's tornado alley?
13 Oct 05 |  West Midlands
Tornado is 'worst for 25 years'
29 Jul 05 |  West Midlands
In pictures: Tornado aftermath
29 Jul 05 |  In Pictures

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