Plymouth flood victims are still counting the cost
VICTIMS of last month's floods are still battling to get their lives back in order – with many facing huge clear-up bills, life in temporary accommodation and the prospect of being refused insurance in the future.
In the worst-affected areas people lost furniture and personal items and in some cases they were forced to abandon their homes.
Anne Hudson, 43, who lives in Honicknowle Lane, came home from work on New Year's Eve to find water pouring in through her front door.
"I have lived here for 12 years and that was the worst it has been," she said.
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"It was quite horrendous, and it will probably happen again."
Several homes in the same road have been affected by the problem, which the council blames on "a build-up of silt" from the nearby stream.
A spokeswoman said: "The culvert that runs under Honicknowle Lane is checked monthly to ensure it is clear and free flowing.
"Although it is large enough for a person to walk in, the culvert can reach capacity when there is heavy and prolonged rainfall.
"When this happens the road gullies have nowhere to discharge and surface water flooding occurs.
"A build-up of silt washed in from a nearby stream is also known to be a contributory factor."
David Mitchelmore, landlord at The Colebrook Inn, saw his pub flooded eight times in 2012.
The pub has been closed since November 22, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost revenue.
Mr Mitchelmore is due to re-open on Friday , but fears he will no longer be able to get insurance against flooding.
"A lot of residents have had their insurance revoked, they have been told they can't get cover anymore," he said.
"I shall just have to wait and see."
Mr Mitchelmore renewed his insurance in September last year and is hopeful his latest claim will be honoured.
But he says flood defences must be improved in the future.
"I think the most annoying thing is that this has been a known problem for so many years," he said.
"I know we have had a huge volume of water in the last few weeks but I still have not seen anybody from the local authority, they have gone very quiet.
"I don't think there is one thing they can do, there is no easy answer. But what they need to be doing is bringing the budgets forward and putting a proper plan in place."
Sharon Serpell, who lives in Colebrook Lane, said: "The weekend before Christmas we spent the whole time bailing out water. We had about a foot of water.
"Me and my husband should both have been at work but we couldn't go because we couldn't leave the house."
The Woodside Animal Welfare Trust shop in Colebrook Lane was closed for two weeks last month due to flood damage.
Assistant manager Jane Salmons said: "I came in and the back of the shop was flooded. We had about a third of the shop under a couple of inches of water.
"The water was coming up from under the floor.
"We are an animal charity, we get a lot of towels and bedding donated. We had to use all of our animal bedding to mop up.
"We have lost a few thousand pounds in sales, which we are going to try to claim on insurance.
"We have invested in sandbags but that is all we can do really."
Last month South West Water (SWW) revealed plans for a £600,000 scheme to prevent Colebrook from further flooding by widening gullies and constructing a water course to take excess surface water to the Tory Brook.
SWW said it would aim to start work on the new scheme in April 2014, with construction lasting between 10 and 16 weeks.
The Environment Agency is currently carrying out improvement works to the flood defences of the stream in Colebrook.