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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Flooding takes toll on town centre businesses

SHOPS in Whitehaven town centre have been affected by the worst floods ever seen say traders.

Monday’s bad weather saw fire crews pumping water out of flooded shops in Whitehaven for most of the morning.

Strange Fruits in the Market Place had 7ft of water in the basement and owner Shelley Williamson said: “This is the worst I have ever seen the floods. The water level came so high that it touched the electrics and it made me worried about the safety of my staff.”

The shop was checked twice throughout the night but most of the water came between 7am and 10am and a 999 call was placed at 10.30am.

“I don’t know what I would have done without the fire service, they have been brilliant,’’ said Shelley. “I normally try and be resilient and open as usual but it was too dangerous and I was desperate.

“It is getting worse every year and this time the water was only a foot away from entering the shop. It is a worrying time to be a shop owner, but no one is to blame, it’s just nature doing what nature does.”

La Venue at Whitehaven’s King Street had a fire crew pumping water out of the cellar for several hours. The heavy rain caused part of the roof from Boots, also on King Street, to cave in.

A senior pharmacy dispenser at Boots, Pauline Beck, said: “We were only half an hour late in opening as we had to mop up, but after years of working here we weren’t that worried.” Staff at the shop had cordoned off one aisle.

Clothing retailer M&Co also had emergency assistance from the fire brigade as the property on King Street had 18 inches of water in the cellar. Whitehaven firefighters attended for 90 minutes pumping water from the 30m by 20m cellar.

Store manager Pat Dickinson said: “None of our stock was affected, but the water level was nearly touching electrical wires and we were concerned.”

One member of the Whitehaven green watch fire crew said: “There was nowhere for the heavy rainfall to go and could not be displaced which caused the flooding although now the tide is receding we hope that we will be able to stay on top of the call outs.”

Roy Dunbar, United Utilities area manager, said: “Our engineers have been responding to flooding in Whitehaven, following the heavy rain on Monday. A number of cellars and roads were flooded and we are visiting properties affected and assisting householders and businesses with the clean-up.

“We are investigating the cause of the flooding which could be linked to a power failure affecting one of our pumping stations.”

On Sunday night, the Wasdale Mountain Rescue team were involved in an 11-hour rescue operation of a man in his 60s who was overdue from a walk on Scafell Pike.

This led to a major overnight search involving the Wasdale team, Keswick team and Lake District mountain rescue search dogs. The man was found at the top of upper Eskdale at around 3am, then walked back to Taw House in Eskdale.

Rescuers said: “Mountain conditions were very challenging due to the strong winds and heavy rain. Once back in Eskdale there were flooding problems before everyone could return to base.”

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