Storm Desmond was one of the worst storms to hit the United Kingdom during the winter of 2015/16. It brought with it heavy rain, gale force winds and flooding to many parts of the country, but the Cumbria region in the north of the country was particularly badly hit. Many homes and businesses were evacuated, with the police declaring the floods a major incident.
Among the businesses affected was Capstick Carpets. The shop, located in Appleby-in-Westmorland, is situated directly opposite the River Eden. Owners of the business, Marion and Patrick, are no strangers to flooding and told us the story of how the flood waters of December 2015 rose.
“We had a warning from the Environment Agency on Friday that we could get flooding the following day. The River Eden, which is right opposite our shop was well down and it hardly seemed possible. We moved our vehicles to high ground as we had lost two cars to the river 10 years ago [major flood in 2005], we lifted our stock and equipment up as best we could and put our floodgates up in preparation.”
When Marion and her husband Patrick woke the next morning, they still had no real concerns about the level of the river:
“On Saturday morning [5th December 2015], around 7am, my husband checked the river. It had risen, but still seemed okay. We are used to the river level fluctuating, but by 8.30am the river burst its banks and water was coming into our shop. It was overwhelming and so fast. At its height, we had 650mm [25 ½”] in the office.”
It took approximately 24-hours for the flood waters to subside and it was only at that point the scale of the damage was revealed.
“The river finally subsided on Sunday afternoon and we were able to open the warehouse doors and begin the clean-up. We needed 18 skips to remove all the damaged carpet stock, display samples and office equipment. We live above the shop and continued to do so, even though we had no electricity for four days. Our neighbours had their cars swept away. Two and a half weeks later, on the 22nd, just before Christmas, the River Eden burst its banks again. Thankfully, this time, the flood waters didn’t get in – but did come up to the shop door!”
Following a major flood in 2005, Marion and Patrick had invested in flood protection for the business. However, the Floodgates they had brought let them down badly during the 2015 winter floods:
“We have lived here since 1994 and the river regularly floods, but only twice has it breached our premises. After 2005, we brought some Floodgates to protect us, but they were useless and just let the flood water in. There were no floods between 2005 and 2015, but then we had three floods in a month! We wanted a better-quality solution and I had found your barriers on your website. We built some new perimeter walls and with Flood Ark barriers we now feel we are prepared for next time! It has been a long time because of meeting Eden District Council’s planning and Appleby’s conservation area requirements.”
Like many customers, Marion and Patrick found that being proactive and choosing to invest in flood protection has put them in a stronger position when it comes to negotiating with insurance companies.
“Our insurers, AXA, couldn’t have been more helpful. A loss adjuster arrived on Monday morning and we were among the first to be seen. When the reinstatement work was done, we agreed a settlement figure that we were happy with. Since the claim, we have had one renewal and the flooding excess was increased from £1,000 to £4,000 which isn’t bad considering. We have heard many insurance horror stories.”Keswick, Cumbria Padiham, United Kingdom