“The flooding experienced in Kendal on the 5th and 6th of December 2015 was the largest flood event ever recorded in the town, and was the result of the effects of Storm Desmond. This storm caused a period of prolonged, intense rainfall across Northern England. This rainfall fell on catchments that were already saturated and resulted in high river levels and flooding throughout Cumbria and further afield.
The flow in the River Kent and its tributaries through Kendal on the 5th of December was the highest ever recorded and the various flooding mechanisms that occurred caused widespread flooding throughout the town.” (Excerpt from Cumbria County Council’s Kendal Flood Investigation Report)
“Approximately 2,150 properties were directly affected by flooding, with the majority of these located in the Mintsfeet and Sandylands areas of Kendal. Overtopping of defences in the Mintsfeet area occurred when the water level exceeded the height of the defence and flowed over the flood defence embankment structures. In Sandylands, initial flooding from Stock Beck occurred as the capacity of the underground culverted watercourse system was exceeded, followed by overtopping of the Stock Beck Flood Storage Basin (FSB).” Kendal Flood Investigation Report
The 5 key recommendations of the Kendal Flood Investigation Report were:
- Investigate options to improve flood storage in the upstream reaches of the Stock Beck catchment.
- Improve the flood flow capacity of Stock Beck specifically where it flows underground in culverts.
- Investigate options for upstream flood storage on the rivers Mint, Sprint, and Kent.
- A combination of increasing channel capacity and constructing flood defences along the entire reach of the Rivers Kent and Mint, from Mint Bridge Road in the north to Helsington Mills in the south.
- Assess the flood flow capacity of road and railway bridges in Kendal and identify where improvements can be made.
This is the story of one family who flooded during Storm Desmond. The early timings come from a CCTV recording of events, but then it has to be switched off.
At 1.30pm C goes to our garage to bring the sandbags to the front of our property.
I go on the internet to get advice. I use the Met Office website. It shows dangerous flood warnings for many areas and ours is one of them. The site is refreshed every 15 minutes. No other alarms or advice come to us.
We start to take valuables and furniture upstairs, anything we can think of, and put emergency items in my bag ready if we have to vacate.
3.02pm water comes into Mint Dale at a pace from the junction with Mintsfeet Road, having travelled upwards from the Jubilee field. Waters also arrive in Mint Close and in all the garages. Ours is one of them. The waters are now in the back of our house and rising.
3.05pm the water is now moving at a considerable pace in the road.
During the above times, a resident who lives around the corner to us, warns us to get out of the property but we keep going, not wanting to give up our home to water. There was no other help but T, no advice, no police, no firemen, nothing.
3.14 pm road is flooded and seeping onto pavement and drive. We try to sweep and bucket the waters back from pavement and drive. From then on you can see the height of the water flowing down the path. The picture at 3.47 pm shows the height and spread of water in the road by the transit van travelling at a ridiculous speed.
3.50 pm onwards we have unplugged the CCTV.
We try to bucket the water seeping in at the front door and take it to the sink in the kitchen but the water is coming up through the drain pipe in the sink. Items on the floor are now floating in from the living room, the dog’s bed and other floatable items.
C takes the car to higher ground and before he returns the water is entering the house under the plastic cover behind the sand bags against the front door. The height of the sand bags is approx. 2’. He takes a tumble in the waters over something he could not see. He strides over the sandbags to come in the house.
A little later T returns and insists we leave and make our way round to his house as he is confident the waters will not seep up to his house
When the water has arrived over Kath’s wellies, C is getting very worried, it is time to give up and vacate our home. We get our labrador and my budgie, Sonny in his cage, ready. We turn off the electricity at the mains and with the aid of torches, wade our way out through the front door.
Outside, are our next door neighbours, P & H . I trip over something in the dirty water, and drop the cage. P picks up the cage and we all wade around to T’s house. We are wet through. Our clothes are wet too.
At T’s house we meet K, she has a young toddler around her feet and a young baby in her arms. There are other neighbours and we feel safe for the moment. Not so long afterwards, the waters creep into T’s house. We help to take things upstairs for them and K rings the services for help for her two young children particularly the baby. We don’t know how that turns out but we have to move on. P as contacted the Kendal Cricket Club and they say we can go there for respite. We gather the dog and agree to leave my budgie there, as T has animals and they need to be kept warm. I pick him up the next day.
P & H go to their daughter’s house nearby which was dry at the time. Once there, they cannot come back as the waters have risen too much. We set off up to Shap Road. The waters are deep there too. We wade towards the Cricket Club.
At the Laundry, Berendsens, each entrance gap is a waterfall and at a much higher level than the waters in the road and path. We arrive at the Cricket Club and take the stairs to the function room on the first floor. M the barman is there.
He agrees to let us stop but is worried that the basement is under water and creeping up to first floor level. He fears that if the waters rise to a certain level, we would not be able to get out. There is no food, it’s all downstairs under water! M’s house is also flooded.
There are about 15 adults. There are three young children and four dogs. We are all cold and wet.
We set about taking off wet clothing, coats etc and try to dry them on the radiators.
Mobile phones etc are plugged in to recharge. M says there is a loaf, butter and cheese in the cupboards in the kitchen and I set about buttering and cutting the cheese for the kids and making hot drinks. The bread has seen better days and I hope the kids don’t notice. Together, with snacks from the bar they are ok and start to play. We have no other food, just snacks from the bar.
M has contacted the chairman and informed him of the situation and has opened the bar. We are able to get soft drinks for the kids and us too. Everyone seems to have an alcoholic drink to sooth nerves!! Nobody feels like getting tipsy though.
M has a visit from the fire brigade and he tells them he has us upstairs. The fire brigade make safe the electrics so we can continue to have heat and light, and they tell us to stay put as it is too dangerous to move elsewhere. We understand that we should have made our way to the town hall or the leisure centre. This is impossible as we cannot get over the river.
Our son and daughter in law are constantly talking to us on our mobiles. They are very worried about us and R makes his way down to the top of Sandylands Road and can see the Cricket Club and he implores us to come down. He will get a boat and we can all be taken to higher ground, some at a time. We cannot move. The children are too small to even try to enter the waters. The waters are now in the stair well. The height, I count is 15 stairs below. If the waters start to rise above stair 15, we are in danger.
We have to stay where we are. Through the night, the kids eventually settle down to sleep as do their parents and mostly all of us at different times. We cat nap and keep vigil at the stair case. M regularly takes a round of his inmates to make sure all is safe and well. He is a very kind man. We have no idea of the time and we are all exhausted.
It must have been towards 9.30/10.00 am when our son comes and we go to pick up our car and go to their house. We have breakfast, trying to make sense of it all, and then make our way through mayhem to our house. Our dividing wall between no 7 and ours, no 9 has been floored.
R enters our house first taking photos. The furniture in the porch is on its side and it takes time to get in. The settee and chairs are on their sides and have landed under the window, in the living room. It’s a mess. Walking through to the kitchen and the fridge full of Christmas goodies is on its side along with the microwave. The cooker has had water in it. The kitchen is a mess, so is the under stairs cupboard. The freezer in the utility room is full but is lying on its back! The washer and tumble dryer have water in them. Everything has been under water to above 2 foot. The water has seeped up the stairs to stair 4 and we remove the stair carpet to that level.
Everything on the bottom floor is a mess and soggy and smelly. The cupboards at base level and their contents are ruined. My family set to and clear up as much as possible getting it out to the front of our house. Everything in the back is out on the back garden.
River Kent nowPosted by Sandylands Methodist Church on Tuesday, 22 December 2015
River Kent on 22 December 2015 – was it going to happen again?