'A constant battle' - families still living in hotels three months after severe floods in Somerset

  • Watch Louisa Britton's report

People whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged by flash flooding in Somerset earlier this year are still having to live in hotels and B&Bs almost four months on.

Debbie Symonds, who has lived in Queen Camel in Somerset for more than twenty years, is now living in a room at a Bed and Breakfast after her home was flooded in May.

There is no indication of when she will be able to return though, because she says her insurance company is dragging its feet.

She said: "At night times I wake up quite a few times and what goes around in my head is the flood and the insurance company.

Flooding in Queen Camel in May 2023 Credit: James Farmer

"I thought the damage to the property would take probably up to six months to repair if they just started from the beginning and started doing things to the property and the items in the property, but they haven't.

"I thought a Bed and Breakfast would be fine for a week to ten days but not three and a half months."

Her daughter Keeley Symonds said: "It just feels like a constant battle. This horrible thing has happened, this flood which is nobody's fault, and you're just sort of constantly fighting to try and get something done.

"It's just watching my mum get more and more upset, get more and more stressed.

"Her mental health is being affected, which is then in turn affecting her physical health because she has a few conditions that, you know, stress and worry make worse."

The Jeans family have been living in a Travelodge for almost four months Credit: ITV News

On the evening of the 9th of May, almost a month's worth of rain fell within the space of just a few hours and the River Cam burst its banks. The damage to many houses and businesses in the area was devastating.

In North Cadbury, the Jeans family's home was so damaged it became unliveable and Somerset Council put them up in a Travelodge in Wincanton.

They thought the move would be temporary, but it has become a way of life - all six of them are still there.

Carly Jeans said: "The children are really suffering now, especially with the summer holidays. They're still stuck in a room.

"We have got the park across the road, which has been a bit of a godsend but obviously when it rains, we are stuck in a room and they're finding it really, really difficult.

"It's starting to take a toll on everybody's mental health."

A spokesperson for Somerset Council said: "Somerset Council is sympathetic to the families who have lost their possessions and are displaced from their homes due to the flooding earlier this year.

"Temporary accommodation was offered to those affected by the flood straight away and we have since been supporting families find more appropriate permanent accommodation.

"We are doing everything we can to help, but the shortage of large, affordable social or private rented family homes, in the county is challenging due to the level of demand and unaffordable prices.

"As a council, we are working hard in trying to find permanent solutions in this unusual situation and will continue providing ongoing, dedicated support to flood victims."

Debbie's insurance company has also been contacted by ITV News.

They sent this statement from a spokesperson: "Trinity Claims handles claims on behalf of Policy Expert and other companies.

"We understand that when people make claims on their home insurance, they are often in a vulnerable position and face significant disruption to their lives.

"We therefore do all we can to minimise this disruption as far as possible and work with Policyholders to progress their claim as quickly as possible and settle to their satisfaction.

"It is standard practice for insurers to ensure all necessary cleaning has been performed, both from the perspective of the customer’s specific needs and the property’s condition, before repairs can be carried out.

"Throughout this period, we have been in close communication with the customer and have been responsive to her specific requirements. We understand that policyholders making a claim often find themselves in a vulnerable position, so we do all we can to put their minds at rest."