By Kris Jepson
Six months after Storm Desmond battered Northumberland, flooding nearly 200 homes, ITV News Tyne Tees has learned 88 families are still waiting to return to their properties.
Some 278 private and commercial properties were flooded when the River Tyne hit record levels in December, according to Northumbria County Council figures.
190 were family homes.
Only 102 have returned
88 families are either waiting for their properties to dry out or receive repair work.
Corbridge was the worst hit area and in the Stanners Lane on the south bank of the Tyne, Nick Oliver’s family are the only homeowners to return so far. He told ITV News the start of 2016 has been tough.
“It is odd, during the day it’s quite busy, lots of builders, lots of vans up and down the lane and it's a hive of activity but at night it’s very, very quiet. There’s nobody else around and it’s sort of dark and silent.
“You live in your house, it’s your home and to see it destroyed in literally an hour is an extraordinary thing and it’s hard to believe that this time of year, when the river is low and the sun’s shining, it’s hard to believe that you can have five feet of water in your garden and it’s just extraordinary actually, where does all that water come from?"
At Joan and Neil Robson’s home building work has only just started. It took the full six months to dry out each room of their bungalow. They do not expect to be allowed back in their house until August at the earliest. Using a £5,000 council grant their home will be protected by air bricks and flood doors.
“I think I’m going to be very nervous every time it rains, I think I’m going to be anxious. It is quite hard because you’re not in your own house, you’re just displaced. You’re not even with your own friends and neighbours. You meet people in the street and they’ll say ‘Oh, you’ll be back in your house?’ and I’ll say ‘no, we’re nowhere near’. ‘oh you must be in by now?’ And of course we’re not.”
Neil is now holding onto the hope of moving back in during the summer. He said:
"We’ve had hard times thinking when will we get back in? It’s just this week that we’ve seen a little bit of green light so I feel a lot happier now."Corbridge Flood Action Group have been supporting the affected residents and is actively conversing with the Environment Agency and council to look into possible flood prevention measures.
Chairman of the parish council Maurice Hodgson said:
“I'd like to think that we’d get the islands done within the next few months, the drainage scheme within the next three to four months and the bigger work on behalf of the Environment Agency about diverting water and other flood defence measures, I’d like to think we’d have some idea by the end of this year.