Cafe holds its own against battering by the storms

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A business owner says he has nothing to fear from flooding after his wooden hut cafe survived the battering of the storms.

Neil Hodgson who co-owns Sandside Cafe with his sister Karen Mortimer, says if the building can stand that kind of weather, it can survive anything.

When Whitby and the surrounding areas was under water a fortnight ago, Neil was sat in the cafe in the dark waiting to see what happened and following the turn of the tide he was relieved to discover that the worst damage was a small landslip under the cafe decking.

Mr Hodgson said: “Now it has happened it has made me happier. After a battering like that I have a lot of confidence. The cafe is built on the foundations of the old viaduct and the baskets are on top so the foundations are just incredible.

“I am not concerned for the future. I have realised that after a battering like that, the cafe has not moved an inch. I have talked to people who were here in 1953 and have said this storm was as bad as that one. Everything has held up fantastic.”

There was a period of about three hours though, he admits, on that Thursday afternoon where he wasn’t sure what would happen as the volume and force of the water increased.

Neil and his staff were serving up Christmas lunches when they noticed the height of the waves at around 2pm but realised there was still another three hours to go before high tide.

He said: “We didn’t expect anything to be dangerous and plodded on. Everything was fine, everyone was having a good time and left about 3pm. We were clearing up and getting the cafe ready for the next day and it was getting worse and worse.

“When the waves started to go over Tides, all of a sudden you realised how bad it really was. The volume of water was not normal, then it got dark and you couldn’t see anything.

“You were helpless any road, we stopped until after high tide and went home. There was nothing we could have done or you would have ended up doing something silly so we came back hours later.”

He discovered that the worse of it was that a bit of banking had come away under the decking which they had propped up with a scaffolding pole the previous night.

Unlike many other businesses, the cafe was able to open as normal the next day. It will be open this weekend and again on Boxing Day every day until January 6 from 9am-4pm.

Neil added: “The baskets are an incredible system. They were going to do works next year but as far as we are concerned it has brought that forward.

“I have seen some dramatic weather in the 19 years we have been here but I have never seen it like that.”