Flood victims left 'homeless and without a business'

Flood victims left ‘homeless and without a business’

Homes and businesses were wrecked as rivers across the county burst their banks and caused widespread flooding.

Houses on one of the streets in Hereford hit hardest will be empty for months to come as work starts to repair the flood damage.

The owners of a bed-and-breakfast close to the river felt let down by the authorities and said there was a lack of communication.

They are set to lose out on £40,000 of bookings over the next six months following cancellation, and are now living in a holiday cottage 20 miles away.

“We were entirely flooded. We are essentially homeless and without a business,” said Polly Ernest, 55, who runs East Friars B&B with her husband Roger.

“I know there are people in the road still living there, but the insurer has classed ours as uninhabitable. It’s just horrible.

“It’s traumatic when the floor underneath your feet is moving.”

The flooding came as heavy rain overnight on Friday, October 25, continued throughout the day on Saturday. At 7am the water came up from the floorboards, and by late afternoon there were eight inches of water in the house.

“The following day (after the flooding) we were told the water was contaminated, but there was very little guidance about what that meant,” she added. “When the flood warden came round, he told us the flooding would be as bad as 1998, but we didn’t live here in 1998 so it didn’t mean much to us.”

The six guests staying at the B&B were immediately evacuated, and Mrs Ernest said it was “embarrassing” asking them to leave.

The Environment Agency said officers have been helping and giving advice to people affected.

A spokesman said: “We sympathise with anyone who has suffered flooding to their properties during the recent floods. We have seen the highest river levels in the area for many years.

“On Friday last week we had officers out speaking to affected residents in Hereford, including in Greyfriars Avenue, and we plan to visit the area again shortly.

“We have also had surveyors out on Monday this week collecting evidence on water heights so that we can compare it to previous flood data.

“We are very keen to work with the flood warden and will continue to be in contact with him about initiatives such as setting up a local Flood Action Group.”

The spokesperson said there will also be a meeting organised with the community, as well as other initiatives considered such as a local flood action group.

The fast-flowing river Wye under the Old Bridge caused problems when debris that was being washed downstream became stuck. The Environment Agency is continuing to tackle the mass of debris, but this can only be done as and when it is safe.

The bridge was closed for a time to vehicles and pedestrians as the river level peaked at 5.52 metres, the highest level since 1998.

Last Thursday teams from the Environment Agency were seen working underneath the bridge.

A spokesperson said: “We are continuing to clear the blockage around Hereford Bridge due to the debris that has collected during the on-going high river levels.

“We are aiming to do the work as quickly and safely as possible.

“Some of the debris will float away but this is unavoidable due to the changing river levels and difficult access. We are also collecting plastics for recycling.”