Press Office

Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

Press Release

BBC North East and Cumbria to broadcast Cumbria – After The Floods

Cumbria – After The Floods, a special BBC North East and Cumbria documentary to be broadcast on BBC One next Friday 12 November, will see how people have been rebuilding their lives a year on from West Cumbria's worst flooding in history.

Nearly 700 homes, and many businesses, were severely damaged last November with Cockermouth's Gote Road one of the worst hit when the River Cocker and the River Derwent's banks burst.

This year has been a year of rebuilding for the town's residents and the programme hears from people who are still trying to deal with the effects of the floods.

At the beginning of the year, Fiona Tunstall is still living in a caravan with her young son and is anxious that progress on her house has been slow – she's also worried that the river might overflow again.

Newsagent Catherine Bell is rebuilding her business, farmer Robert Jackson is still trying to deal with the 15,000 tonnes of gravel that was washed onto his barley field, and Michelle Lockett is living in a hotel and is caught between her loss adjuster and insurance company who can't agree on building work.

Most affected by the floods is Hazel Barker whose husband, PC Bill Barker, lost his life when nearby Workington's Northside Bridge collapsed under the weight of the river's heavy current.

The film has had intimate access to Hazel as she copes with her loss. "People have just completely blown me away by their support," says Hazel.

The programme travels with Hazel and her family to a memorial service at the National Memorial for Police Officers in Staffordshire.

"Bill was a loyal police officer," says Hazel. "He considered it an honour and a privilege."

Hazel and her family are guests of honour when 500 runners turn out to the West Cumbrian Run in honour of Bill.

"I'll never to forget the memory that so many people were willing to run and support us," says Hazel.

As Cockermouth gets back to business there's a return visit from HRH Prince Charles. The Prince drops in on Catherine in her newly refurbished shop. Cockermouth's Main Street and its pubs are open again and Workington has a new bridge.

Fiona and her son move into a different house but Michelle and her daughter are still living in the hotel and farmer Robert has had to fork out £30,000 to remove the rubble from his field. The film also features the reopening of Wordsworth House – a key player in the town's important tourist trade.

Work also begins on the Environment Agency's flood wall along Gote Road, which resident Sue Cashmore had to sell to local residents. Initially, residents resist the wall and want the river dredged of gravel but the Agency believes that it would have made little difference to future flood defences. A compromise has to be reached.

As work begins on the wall, Sue says: "For the first time this morning I didn't feel overly anxious because I thought they're here helping us – we're going to be alright this year. I'm moving towards the 19 November with hope."

Cumbria – After The Floods, BBC One (North East and Cumbria), Friday 12 November at 7.30pm.

Please credit the programme in any copy.


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