Flood-hit villagers show courage in the face of adversity

By Geoff Berkeley Wednesday 28 November 2012 Updated: 28/11 19:33

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Buy photos » Church street residents Jennifer Grey and her husband Aubrey paid tribute to their neighbours. Picture by Geoff Berkeley.

RESIDENTS in Kempsey have spoken of the incredible community spirit which helped them survive the devastation of seeing flood waters sweep through their homes in the early hours of Sunday morning (November 25).

Fifteen people on Church Street had to be rescued by firefighters and about 40 homes evacuated at 5am after one of the pumps on the village's £1.7million flood defence system - which was only unveiled earlier this year - stopped working.

But Jennifer Grey, 79, and her husband, Aubrey, 83, told the Standard it was the actions of a number of their neighbours that helped them through the horrifying ordeal before the emergency services arrived.

"We went to bed and at 3am in the morning we heard a bang on the door," Mrs Gray said.

"Nobody was there when Aubrey opened it, but the water came rushing in. Two or three people then came around to help move some of the furniture. My neighbour's house was flooding at the time, yet he still bothered to come and help us. All of them were just wonderful."

Shaun Robinson, 37, and his partner, Jenny, 26, also came to the aid of other residents but played down their heroics.

"The main thing was to help people who couldn't do what we could do," he said.

"The whole village was just helping each other out."

Cathy Garner Oram, 38, of the Kempsey Flood Action Group (FLAG) which had led the campaign to get defences for the village, was not surprised to see the community coming together.

"It was neighbours who were waking each other up and coming together as they always do," she added.

"There is a family of four who have taken in a family of five and there is another couple who have taken in Jennifer and Aubrey.

"People work really hard to support each other."

Environment secretary Owen Paterson has promised a full investigation into why the flood defences failed to protect residents.

He told MPs on Monday (November 26) he believed the problem had been caused by an electrical fault.

"I feel desperately sorry for the residents of Kempsey whose properties were flooded when the local pumps failed," he added.

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Buy photos» The situation at Squire's Walk in Kempsey on Monday (November 26). Picture by Geoff Berkeley.

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