Ottery floods: victims set sights on hme return six months on

PUBLISHED: 14:21 12 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:08 18 June 2010

AFTER ferocious rain and unprecedented hail wrecked houses and turned lives upside down half a year ago, a flood-hit Ottery area- left like a 'ghost town' - is returning to normality as residents finally settle back in to their homes.

AFTER ferocious rain and unprecedented hail wrecked houses and turned lives upside down half a year ago, a flood-hit Ottery area- left like a "ghost town"- is returning to normality as residents finally settle back in to their homes. Thorne Farm Way, left unrecognisable and at the centre of a national media storm last year, has been an eerie, desolate spot that has echoed with the sound of workmen's tools for the past six months- but its resemblance of a close-knit community is beginning to resurface.

Brave flood-victims forced out of their properties in the middle of the night on October 30, will celebrate their return with a 'Hailstone Hop' at the Tumbling Weir Hotel in June.

"It's a bit of a fun night and we deserve it to be truthful", organiser Barry Fern told the Herald. Barry, 69, saw two inches of muddy water wreck the downstairs of his townhouse, but, not wanting to uproot his beloved pet cats, stayed in situ as repair work was carried out.

He said: "The last six months have been marginally lonely and not easy. What happened has broken up our community, but we have kept in touch during our parting of ways and will get back to being a nice community again." In February, pensioners Duncan and Pat Docherty's chalet bungalow home was still a stripped out shell where walls were cut 4ft from a floor which was bare to copper piping and concrete.

However, the couple have swapped tears for smiles as building work began last month. They hope to move back from their temporary accommodation by July.

Duncan, 84, who has lost more than a stone in weight, had swapped happy retirement and home comforts for a dedicated and "terrible" mission to co-ordinate the couple's bid for normality.

He said: "There's no stress now, we're not in limbo anymore- when I go down there (the house) it's a treat to talk to the builders. It's going to be gorgeous when it's finished. I worked out we lost about £16,000 worth of stuff. I'm looking forward to things being different and better- I've missed the television and the computer." There is no question what Pat, 80, is looking forward to the most: "Just being back in our own home." She said: "I've been prescribed medication for depression. My doctor has told me he hopes my troubles will be over when we move back in- and I think that's it. "Neither of us has put the weight we have lost back on, our sleep is still broken and it's still there all the time." Chris Garlick, 71, retuned to his townhouse last month. He said: "I'm delighted to be back amongst friends. There was two inches of water in the bottom half of my house- but we were lucky.

"It's all been very unpleasant- people have lost things that go back generations- photos and letters were swept away. "The (hailstone) hop is a wake to put an end to this whole saga." Tickets (£12) for the Hailstone Hop, from 7.30pm to 12midnight on June 26, are available from Ottery's Tourist Information Centre. Proceeds will go to the flood-hit Feniton Church.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Sidmouth Herald. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Sidmouth Herald