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Publication date:- 2016-12-23

user-generated Headlines and reports on this page = 3 news items.    Page - 5.

'Tis the season to be flooded' as Flood charity's helpline gets braced for calls

A year on from the floods that deluged communities across the North of England, that happened in December 2015, the National Flood Forum's helpline is on standby to support people across Lancashire who are at risk of flooding this winter.

In the eye of the 2015 winter storms, calls to the charity's helpline more than doubled compared to the previous year and increased by a third as compared to the devastating floods that wreaked havoc on Christmas celebrations in 2013 to 2014.

The charity's helpline provides practical and emotional support to anyone affected by flooding and calls to the service spike in the immediate aftermath of a flood event.

From December to January 2015/16 as Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank caused widespread flooding, the helpline took hundreds of calls from people who were most commonly concerned about insurance difficulties; including having no insurance, the process of reinstating a home and financial support to help people recover.

The National Flood Forum also offers face to face support once the emergency services have left and for the many months afterwards. In the aftermath of Storm Desmond a team of staff from the charity undertook a 16 day tour of 20 flood hit locations across Cumbria, in partnership with other agencies, and gave advice to more than a thousand people with flooding concerns.

The process of recovering from a flood can take anything from 6 months to 2 years and beyond. Many of those who were affected last year are only just returning to their homes in readiness for this Christmas.

Simon Macaulay, Managing Director of Anglo Recycling in Whitworth said:- "Boxing Day 2015 marked our third flood in the last five years and our biggest insurance claim yet. It's not just the financial cost though, our staff had to cope with an awful month of clear up in January at the same time as attempting to meet the needs of our customers. They did a brilliant job and our customers were very understanding. But the risk of flooding is a real threat to our business and the jobs of 50 people. So, we must do all we can to future proof our business against this issue; and we will."

Paul Cobbing from the National Flood Forum said:- "Recovering from a flood turns people's lives upside down. Everything that was once normal is changed. Flood recovery is all consuming and as we approach another winter we know that the sound of rain can send people into a panic that they may have to face it all over again. That's why we exist as a charity; to offer our support and expertise with everything from insurance battles, to managing the painstaking rebuild of a home and very commonly the emotional burn out and stresses that people face."

Keith Crabtree, 68 is a flood warden. He said:- "It's no exaggeration to use the word devastation when it comes to flooding. It's taken a good 12 months for some to recover and I know a lot of places, homes, businesses and people are still going through it now. The flood displaced so many people. Many are only just moving back home. Some don't like to talk about it because it means reliving it all over again. Flooding wipes people out."

Paul Cobbing added:- "There's no doubt that flooding is traumatic. Experience shows that after surviving a disaster people can have a variety of reactions. You may feel like you can cope with just one thing at a time. You might find it hard to retain information and things that you are told. You could feel stressed and find everyday things that you could usually deal with become hard to cope with. You live from day to day. Planning for the future feels impossible. You need to get through the immediacy of what's going on. All of these reactions to being flooded are normal human responses. If you feel you can't cope, speak out. Help and support is available."

The National Flood Forum helpline is open during office hours, Monday to Friday and can be contacted on:- 01299 403055 or via email. To support the charity's work with flooded people and communities across England and Wales, text:- 'RAIN07' to:- '70070' to make a donation.

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