Lancaster landlord hailed a hero for flood refuge action

Lancaster MP Cat Smith with landlord of the Robert Gillow pub Mark Cutter. Mark performed heroics over the weekend by keeping the pub open all night as a refuge for people evacuated from their homes.  PIC BY ROB LOCK 7-12-2015
Lancaster MP Cat Smith with landlord of the Robert Gillow pub Mark Cutter. Mark performed heroics over the weekend by keeping the pub open all night as a refuge for people evacuated from their homes. PIC BY ROB LOCK 7-12-2015

A pub landlord has been hailed a hero by the city’s MP after he provided an all night shelter for hundreds of people rescued from the devastating floods in Lancaster.

As the water rose to unprecedented levels on Saturday night, many people were trapped in the city after the bridges were shut and public transport and taxi services ground to a halt.

The Robert Gillow on Saturday night after the power went out. Photo by Mark Cutter

The Robert Gillow on Saturday night after the power went out. Photo by Mark Cutter

When the electricity supply shut down at around 10.30pm, chaos ensued as people enjoying a night out found themselves on the streets with no way of getting home.

Realising their plight, Mark Cutter and Tash Burns from The Robert Gillow quickly took matters into their own hands and contacted police to say that anyone stuck in the city or evacuated from their homes would find warm blankets and a place to shelter in their Market Street pub.

Lancaster MP Cat Smith said “there was no proper plan” and “no-one in charge” as police officers and fire crews frantically rushed to peoples’ aid as the floods worsened.

Mark was with Ms Smith outside his other pub The Juke Joint, in North Road, where a Syria benefit concert should have been taking place.

Lancaster MP Cat Smith took this photo of cars struggling through the rising water in North Road on Saturday December 5.

Lancaster MP Cat Smith took this photo of cars struggling through the rising water in North Road on Saturday December 5.

Ms Smith was walking to Sainsburys to buy a lightbulb.

Mark said: “At around 8pm on Saturday evening the Juke Joint cellar was under 2m of water.

“It had risen 60cm in one hour.

“The river was surging up North Road and at one point Cat went and physically lifted a young woman out of the water.

“I went back to The Robert Gillow and contacted police to say we would stay open all night for people to come in and shelter.

“The police were confused at first that I was ringing to help and not for help.

“That’s when the power went off.

“Throughout the night, as police were rescuing people they were bringing them here and we kept in touch on community radio.

“We had small children being delivered with their families and people who didn’t speak English.

“We managed to get two doormen from the Thirsty Scholar to stay all night, and they were walking people home and providing security.

“It was a constant stream of people all night who were just desperate to get home.”

Cat Smith said that people were frantic, not knowing what was going on.

She said that people were looking for trains leaving the city but there were none available.

“This man’s a hero for what he did that night”, she said.

“People would not believe that the bridges across the river were shut.

“There was no coordination as there was no communication, it was just people on the ground speaking to eachother.

“I’m disappointed that south of the Lune felt very cut off.

“In the future we need a proper plan in place and emergency planning for people who can’t get across the river.”

Mark added: “At one point people were told the water was coming up Church Street and we went down to have a look.

“It was neck height by the bus station and we were lucky enough to spot two people shouting for help, trapped on a little pocket of land.

“The Sun Hotel also stayed open to help out.

“There were hundreds of people in and out of the pub all night.”

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