Humber tidal surge: Trauma of the floods one year on

Lisa Moss standing in a derelict living and dining space in her house
Image caption Flooding caused by the worst tidal surge on the east coast in 60 years destroyed some homes and businesses including Lisa Moss's house

A year after a tidal surge hit the east coast of England flooding homes and businesses, the events of 5 December 2013 continue to traumatise those who were caught up in the devastation.

If there is one thing Caroline Cattle will never get over - no matter how many times she tries to forget - it is the image of rising water levels inside her house in Yokefleet, near Goole, East Yorkshire, and the heart attack her father had that same night.

For Mrs Cattle the nightmare of that evening is still fresh in her mind.

"Each time I get a text alert about high tide I keep relieving it, thinking it could happen again," she said.

"I get panic attacks. I'm panicking all the time.

"I've lived in the village all my life and never, ever has anything like this happened before."

Image caption Caroline and Barry Cattle moved back into their refurbished home in June after it was damaged by flooding

Towns and villages across the region were struck by the worst tidal surge on the east coast in 60 years, causing widespread damage to about 400 homes and businesses on both banks of the Humber estuary.

"[At the time] we heard they were going to evacuate Blacktoft, so I just took my dog across the road to my dad's because he seems higher up in his house, so I thought if anything would happen they would be safe," said Mrs Cattle.

"But then my dad, who's 90, and my dog both got stranded in my dad's bedroom in the dark. So my dad ended up having a heart attack. We couldn't get to him, it was just absolutely horrendous."

Her father survived and has now recovered.

Image copyright Dave Hardy
Image caption Cleethorpes was one of the towns in the Humber region badly hit by the storm surge

For the next six months after the events of that night, Mrs Cattle, who is housebound because of a disability, was forced to live in a caravan as she and her husband Barry tried to get their lives back on track.

So it was "such a relief and very exciting" when the couple eventually moved back into their unfinished house in June, she said.

However, the excitement of moving back home was short-lived.

"I love the house how it is now and I absolutely love being in it. But it's just those thoughts all the time.

"This has always been my safe place but then after that night, it just got lost. So I'm having to build it back to being my safe place."

Image caption The Cattles' home needed to be stripped back after it was flooded

Mrs Cattle is not the only one still struggling.

Scouring the derelict ground-floor living space of her house in South Ferriby, wife and mother-of-four Lisa Moss is yet to return to a normal life at home.

Due to a delay in getting insurance money, she said she had spent £20,000 of her own funds to put things right.

"Once the money ran out, the contractors pulled out and this is how they've left it," she said, pointing to bare brick walls and rubble.

"It's alright in the beginning, people wanted to come and muck-in, mop through and help you, but a year on people's patience starts to wear thin I think."

The Moss family were in rental accommodation until four months ago when they moved back home, but now they spend their time living in the upper levels of the house.

"You know you're going to be cold. You can't prepare a meal because you've got no kitchen.

"We've always been a family that's sat down together [for dinner], that's where we all catch up.

"We haven't got that now. We've lost that and that's what the floods took from us. It's took our time with our kids," she said.

Image caption Lisa Moss said the floods had led to her losing "every single one of my coping mechanisms"

The 38 year old, who works as a counsellor, believes her mental and physical well-being has been affected by the floods.

"I've always had a really nice and clean home. If I was ever upset I'd clean. If someone upset me I'd go clean the cooker. I can't do that anymore," said Mrs Moss.

"I can't go into the kitchen and talk to my friend. People don't come round anymore.

"I've lost every single one of my coping mechanisms."

Down the road in South Ferriby lives Julia Davidson, a single mum with two children.

The cake maker, who used to run her own business from home, said the floods had destroyed her livelihood, leaving her "thousands of pounds" out of pocket.

"It was petrifying to say the least," she said.

Image caption Julia Davidson is starting her cake business again "from scratch" after her premises was flooded

"I lost all my work. All the Christmas cakes I'd made had all gone.

"I had 27 cake orders and each cake order starts from £50. I lost that immediately and I didn't have another kitchen to make anymore in. It was the busiest time of the year.

The entrepreneur took up a part-time job to "help financially" as she gets her business up and running again.

"It feels like I'm starting again from scratch.

"It's coming back now but it's very, very slow."

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