The damage caused by the recent floods has been well documented but I hadn’t appreciated the enormity of the devastation until I witnessed the aftermath myself following a recent visit to Carlisle.
Although, I had visited my home city a number of times since Storm Desmond I hadn’t been to the worst effected areas. Similar floods in 2009 had left the home of my brother and his young family under 5ft of water.
On that occasion I saw firsthand the physical effects of the damage, but I also saw the emotional side of them having to endure it.
Thankfully, my family escaped this time, but only just. The water lapped against sandbags on their step but eventually receded. Those in the Warwick Road area of the city, near the football ground, were not so lucky. I know people who live in this area but I hadn’t appreciated how widespread the damage was until last weekend.
Brunton Park, the home of my beloved Carlisle United, had been badly damaged with floodwater reaching the crossbar of the goals. Miraculously, we were staging a home game on a newly-laid pitch just six weeks later, and my partner and I had to be there. The bars in the vicinity of the ground had been flooded and remained closed so we had our pre-match drinks in the city centre. A number of people had described the devastation, but this didn’t really prepare us for what we experienced as we neared the ground.
The air smelled damp which was hardly surprising as there were skips outside almost every house filled to the brim with what had once been the homeowners’ proud contents. Street after street of homes remain unoccupied and even with the football crowd it still came across as something of a ghost town. I spoke to some of the displaced who told me they don’t expect to be home much before Christmas. I find that very difficult to even imagine.
Although not on the same scale, we suffered flooding to homes and businesses in this area. There are Flood Appeals to support victims both here and in Cumbria, and having witnessed the damage caused I would urge all those who can to give generously.