15 December

My Mum finally gets online so I can see the first pictures of the house underwater.

Nothing from outside as it was dark when they left.  They’ve now told me some scary stories about the difficulties they had crossing the street in waist high water with the strength of the water flow. 

Lots of discussion in Kendal about flood warnings.  Two weeks before Desmond arrived Abigail had a go and the Environment Agency put Kendal on the highest level of flood alert.  Nothing happened.  When Desmond came, Kendal was put back on the highest level of alert, but the experience of two weeks before put a lot of people off doing anything.  In other areas, properties had never been mapped as floodable and the homeowners were simply unaware that their properties could be inundated.  I hear one story of an individual in this situation who lived in a bungalow; this person did no preparation and lost absolutely everything including their cars. 

16 December

My parents may have managed to find some accommodation in the New Year… not confirmed yet so fingers crossed.  It’s about 20 minutes drive from Kendal, so not ideal, but we have heard of some people with nowhere to go who have now been re-housed in Manchester, which is hopeless for being able to come back and check on the house and continue a Kendal-based social life.  Still, the need to place people so far away is hardly a surprise; with over 5,000 houses flooded, there are a lot of people looking for accommodation and, like my parents, many will need somewhere to stay well beyond Easter - which is when summer holiday accommodation and second homes in the local area will be likely to fill again.

The carpet and some of the furniture has been removed in my absence over the last few days and when I arrive home Mum is taking up the carpet fixings.  We have a visit from a project manager (buildings insurance) who talks through what will happen.  Sanitisation, strip everything down, rebuild. His timescales are a bit more hopeful than some we’ve heard (6 months not 9), but he acknowledges that there is a limited number of people available to do an awful lot of restoration work in Cumbria right now.  Anyway nothing can really start till all the furniture has gone, so back in a waiting pattern for someone to come and clear this.  At the moment it’s half in the house, half in the garden.  The PM confirms that we will have to lose the bathroom – it’s new and looks ok so this is bad news - but underneath it will also be wet and hence end up stinking.  Mostly today the smell is better though… and the winning dehumidifier today is Rebecca's.

So today the house looks like this...

...which is a big change from 11 days ago.

Wandering about in Kendal I am worried by the state of the drains, which became choked with sediment during the flood and remain so today: their current capacity must be close to zero.

Back at the reservoir that was overtopped, the retaining wall has been patched up with sandbags in a rather hopeful manner (this is the wet side of the retaining wall)...

… and an equally hopeful small raised mound and drainage ditch have been dug across the defence.  In the picture below the track has been patched up where the water came over the top and onto the houses just beyond; the ditch and mound can just be seen in the foreground and appear to designed to channel water back into the holding area.  

So my parents’ house is now protected by the small mound and ditch in the photo above plus the retaining wall they cross, which breached last time round and won’t be much stronger for the added sandbags (2 pictures up).  Then there's the drainage system 3 pictures up and finally, the collapsing wall about 15m from their house (posted 11 December but in the same state today).  I ask our project manager if we can decide to delay repairs till either the weather improves in spring or the defence system is returned to something more convincing.

The gauge record from Stock Beck on 5 December is shown below.

19 December

My parents move in to my house.  Stuff everywhere.  Lost Christmas presents.  But finally we are all together in a house that has a tree and decorations and looks like we can celebrate Christmas in it!  Let’s just hope my home doesn’t flood now…