Tale of a  flooded weekend in Cumbria #StormDesmond
Blog by Jo Farrow
18th December 2015 12:27

Tale of a flooded weekend in Cumbria #StormDesmond

It can be hard to imagine what a flood event would really involve. One member Osbourne One-Nil,of the Netweather Community our online forum, shared his recent experiences after Storm Desmond. He lives in Cumbria in the north Pennines.

"My village is next to a small beck that feeds in the River Eden. When I woke on Saturday morning, the beck had risen from its normal 6" deep trickle to something around 6ft deep and was forcing itself over the banks onto the road. The last time it did this was in January 2005. 

I'd left a car in Appleby overnight following a Christmas party. It was parked in the main town car park which is located behind the town's flood walls, but I was keen to retrieve it as the roads leading to Appleby are prone to flooding in heavy rain. I couldn't get out of the village at all though as not only were the roads blocked by deep puddles but water was flowing off the surrounding hills onto the roads at such a rate it was dangerous to drive through. Some of these flows were knee deep and also flowing through people's houses. My house wasn't flooded but the beck was now so high that the sink and toilets weren't draining.

By this time, it was obvious that the River Eden in Appleby was flooding too as people were posting pictures on Facebook etc, including one of my stranded car in the car park surrounded by a foot of water. The forecast was still predicting at least 18hrs more rain so it was pretty that water was going to rise. In the end, the Environment Agency website suggested that the river rose to 5.3m smashing the previous record set in 2005 of 4.4m. Areas of the town which haven't flooded in anyone's memory were now underwater and all the businesses along one of the town's main streets, Bridge Street, were all inundated; this didn't happen in 2005. 

The rain rate eased around midnight, after 30 hours of continuous rain, enough to allow the level of the beck to slowly drop and eventually the River Eden. According to my weather station, it started raining at 7.50pm on Friday night and carried on continuously until around 6.30am on Sunday morning. During this time, 187mm of rain fell. This compares to around 100mm in Jan 2005 when Carlisle flooded. 

By Sunday lunchtime, it was just possible to leave the village by road again and I managed to get into Appleby. The centre of the town was still underwater and I couldn't get close to my car because of the depth of flooding and because some manhole covers had lifted leaving deep holes hidden by the water. An emergency electrical engineer kindly waded over to the car to take a photo. By this time, the water was around the headlights but it was clear it had been halfway up the windscreen.

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A few buildings around the edge of the flooding had started emptying their furniture and carpets and sweeping out filthy brown water, but most buildings still had several feet of water in them. Some people were clearing the churchyard and showed me the tide mark which suggested the water had already dropped by 3ft. The church has recently spent several hundred thousands on flood defences, built to Environment Agency guidelines, which couldn't cope and the inside of the church was flooded with approximately 3ft of water. 

It wasn't until Monday afternoon that the water had receded off all the roads. By then the town's main street used as a dumping ground for ruined furniture and carpets etc. 6 businesses have been closed by the flooding, including one which had only been open around a week. They'll be shut for months.

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