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Bishops Tawton floods cause thousands of pounds worth of damage

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 27, 2012

By FRANCESCA TAFFS

  • DEVASTATION: The flooding has ruined Christmas decorations at 3 Westacott Cottages, Bishops Tawton. Picture: Mike Southon. To order this photograph call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNMS20121224A-006_C

  • SHELTER: After their home was ruined by floodwater, Leanne Elliott and Mike Heale take refuge in the village hall with dogs Casey and Duchy Picture: Mike Southon.

  • DAMAGE: Debbie Elliott in the ruined kitchen at 2 The Bushens.

  • SWEEPING: At 3 Westacott Cottages Steven Holland sweeps the water away.

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THOUSANDS of pounds worth of damage has been caused to homes and businesses by extreme floods in Bishops Tawton.

But those affected by the relentless rain this Christmas say the community spirit has not been dampened.

Villagers have rallied round to support each other.

The village hall has even been opened to house families in need of a place to stay while the destruction to their homes is put right.

Leanne Elliott, 22, and Mike Heale, 20, woke up on Christmas Eve morning on a camp bed in the hall after their home was hit by floods on Saturday.

They have spent the past two nights there along with their two dogs Casey and Duchy.

The pair live with Leanne's mum and dad, Debbie and Dudley Elliott, her six-year-old sister, Abby, her grandmother and uncle.

The family own Elliott's Butchers which was badly hit by the floods.

The house was hit so badly that even one of the family's 13 pet ducks drowned.

But they are adamant families who were relying on them for their Christmas turkeys will not be let down and are staying open for trade.

They managed to save the meat they had on-site by forming a conveyor belt of people to transfer it to a nearby house.

Debbie said: "There must have been 15 people in a line helping move the meat up. People I didn't even know.

"One thing I will say is the community around here is fantastic. Little kids have even been going up to the hall with food parcels."

Leanne said: "The village has really pulled together. The neighbours have all helped each other."

Debbie said after flood warnings were issued they began preparing for the worst and started pumping water from their home at 8am on Saturday.

She said with the fact the village has been flooded badly in the past, not enough has been done to stop it happening again.

"We have been fighting this for ten years," she added.

But Leanne does not think any amount of pre-planning could have stopped the floods.

"Even if they had done something I don't see how they could have stopped that happening," she said.

"It is too late. The damage has been done."

Leanne said the family are insured but have been told not to start clearing up their house yet.

"They told us to leave it but you cannot live in sewage."

Another affected resident, Steven Holland, 28, of Westacott Cottages, has lived in the village since he was a boy and is suffering from the effects of flooding for the second time.

He only managed to secure insurance for his property two weeks ago, having been denied it for years.

By Christmas Eve he had been awake for 61 hours trying to clear water and silt from the downstairs of his house.

Twelve years ago the village was hit by extreme floods with disastrous results.

"I had a funny feeling it was going to happen again," said Steven.

"It happened in October last time but it has been fine for about ten years."

Steven estimates between £40,000 and £50,000 damage has been caused to his property, including the loss of his tools, which are vital to his job as a builder.

He said: "It is just one of those things. You just have to live with it. You cannot let the kids down.

"A lot of people got a lot worse. At least no one died. You can replace furniture."

His fiancée and two children have had to leave the property and stay with his family while the house is drying out.

But despite this he said he loves Bishops Tawton so much he would not consider moving.

"It is a lovely village. That is the trouble."

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