Ottery fair's flood fears

A FAMILY fair company that is a long-standing part of Ottery s Tar Barrels festivities could be put off from taking part this year if rain is forecast for the event.

A FAMILY fair company that is a long-standing part of Ottery's Tar Barrels festivities could be put off from taking part this year if rain is forecast for the event.

Family members and showmen from Anderton and Rowlands were left devastated on October 31 last year as their fairground on the Millennium Green, an integral part of Tar Barrels fun, was left flooded and a torrent of water and hail wrecked caravan homes on land off Barrack Road.

Their inhabitants were forced to wade through freezing, waist high water in pitch black to safety, many carrying their children on their shoulders.

Thousands of pounds of damage was done to fairground rides.


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Company partner Rowland De Vey, who has been involved in bringing the fair to Ottery for a quarter of a century, still remembers the night well. He wants the fun to return, and to the Millennium Green, but is cautious.

He said: "Yes there is apprehension, we've been there for more than 25 years, once you've had that experience, it does make you think do we want to go back.

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"But if you look at it as a freak storm, what we've got to do is monitor the forecast and try and watch it as much as we can, then make a decision closer to the event.

"The damage from the storm was tremendous and a lot of damage was done. We're still catching up having lost lots of components of rides worth thousands and thousands of pounds. To put it right we won't be fully up and running again until next year.

"The emergency services couldn't get to us, we made our own way up to the hospital in the pitch black with water up to our belly buttons, carrying our children to safety. It was lucky no lives were lost.

"We were very fortunate that the caravans were all insured. Ottery and its people were very good to us as well as people in nearby houses, we all took refuge in the hospital together.

"We can't say now we're not going because of last year, the weather we've had so far on the circuit has been very good. If that continues we'll have a fine back-end.

"The Millennium Green, with bonfire opposite has a real atmosphere, we're not ruling anything out. The intention to go is there but it depends on the weather forecast."

Mr De Vey said he will be meeting with Tar Barrels organisers in the coming weeks. Carnival Committee secretary Steve Pearcy told the Herald last week he was "hopeful" the fair would feature in festivities.

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