England

Storm Ciara: Appleby homeowner cleans up flooded home

Karen watches the water from her doorway Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Karen Morley-Chesworth could only watch as the river levels rose outside her home on Sunday

The flood that swamped Appleby-in-Westmorland on Sunday as Storm Ciara hit the UK was nothing new for its residents. The Cumbrian town has endured 67 floods since 1815, with Storm Desmond in 2015 being particularly devastating.

The River Eden is usually a placid and pleasant waterway wending its way through the picturesque town.

But Karen Morley-Chesworth knows the river which flows past her front door can be a totally different beast when riled by extreme rainfall.

Sunday was the second time in the past five years she has watched helplessly as the Eden entered her home, stirred up by an epic storm.

But when Ciara came to call, she and her husband Maurice and their daughter Katie were ready.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Appleby sits in a crook of the River Eden meaning its town centre is susceptible to flooding

"It was textbook," Mrs Morley-Chesworth says, during a brief respite from sweeping water out of her home.

They got a phone call from the Environment Agency at about 19:00 GMT on Saturday to warn them to prepare.

Image copyright Morley-Chesworth family
Image caption Karen Morley-Chesworth, her husband Maurice, daughter Katie and dog Arthur Weasley are returning home after their house was flooded

Then the town's flood volunteers mobilised, visiting houses to ensure people had what they needed.

Mrs Morley-Chesworth and her family set up the flood gate across their door and with the help of friends, moved everything they could upstairs.

By 10:00 on Sunday, they were ready for the river.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Karen Morley-Chesworth said she had time to prepare for Sunday's flooding

They had learned the lessons from five years previously when Storm Desmond struck.

On 5 December 2015, the River Eden swelled beyond its banks and a 6ft (1.8m) deep torrent swept into Mrs Morley-Chesworth's kitchen and dining room, living room and hall.

"We did not know what to expect," she says. "It was much worse than we could have imagined.

"We were not able to get things moved as quickly. That was the lesson we learnt - was not to keep too much downstairs."

Image copyright Environment Agency/Ordnance Survey
Image caption This map shows the extent of flooding in 2015

Mrs Morley-Chesworth's beloved piano was swept up and smashed while the torrent also tore up their wooden floor.

Cherished family photographs and heirlooms were lost to the water and it was eight months before the family could return.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sunday's view looked similar to this scene in 2015, although the damage to Mrs Morley-Chesworth's home was nowhere near as extensive

They lived in holiday cottages while their cats had to stay in a cattery.

When they returned, they made their house ready to face another flood.

The downstairs floor was replaced with hard tiles and waterproof sealant - "basically like a swimming pool" - she said.

They keep far fewer belongings and furniture downstairs so an evacuation can be carried out quickly.

The piano has been replaced by an easily-moved electric one while the gas fire has been scrapped and a log burner put in its place.

"That way even if there is no power we can still put the kettle on," Mrs Morley-Chesworth says.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The clean up was well under way at Mrs Morley-Chesworth's home with the family expected to return by Monday night

During Sunday's flood, their cat Dumbledore was settled safely in the bathroom while dog Arthur Weasley was taken with the family to await the river's retreat.

This time it was only 2in (5cm) deep and the family expected to be living at home again by Monday night.

They have lived in Cumbria for 26 years and in their riverside home for 14.

Their previous home "halfway up a hill" was also flooded when a storm drain that ran beneath them burst.

"Even up a hill we weren't safe," Mrs Morley-Chesworth says with a laugh.

Having now faced two major floods in the past five years, they could be forgiven for wanting to move.

But they have no intention of doing anything of the sort.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption She and her family have lived in the house for 14 years

"It's a lovely place to live," she said.

"It's a great community and though it's a town it feels like a village, everyone knows everyone else and we are very happy here."

She does not worry about floods because she knows they could happen, and she has insurance through a government scheme.

"The worst thing in 2015 was the school photographs being lost and my piano being shattered to pieces, and being out of the house for eight months was hard.

"But now we accept it's going to happen and prepare as much as we can, and that helps massively.

"Now we only have to sweep the floor, we should be back in by the end of the day."

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