A couple who were left homeless by the recent floods have only just moved back into their town centre home – after 10 weeks.
Robert and Joan Cole have had to flit between family and a rented holiday cottage for ten weeks while their flat on Boulby Bank has been dried out and renovated.
After what they have described as being a “horrendous” time, the couple who are from one of the town’s fishing families, finally returned to their home on Saturday.
It was the first time that Joan (67) had set foot back inside the flat after having to leave it wearing husband Robert’s wellies on the night of December 5 when Whitby was hit by a freak tidal surge which flooded over a hundred homes and businesses across the town.
The couple, whose flat is opposite the harbour, admit they are worried about it happening again and have welcomed news, revealed this week, that the government is handing out grants of up to £5000 to affected house-holds.
Joan said: “We have been talking about the things we can do because it is on our minds.”
Robert added: “When everything is in the right place it could happen again. They are supposed to know about all of these things but we didn’t get a flood warning or anything.
“We would welcome the money. At least 30 properties along here were affected and any measures would make Joan feel better.”
Whitby’s MP Robert Goodwill announced this week that individuals and businesses affected by flooding caused by the tidal surge are now eligible to apply for financial help.
He has been attending Cobra (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) meetings in London regarding the recent flooding in the south of the country and was delighted to discover that the cash was being made available to the Whitby area as well.
He explained that homeowners and businesses will be able to apply for a grant of up to £5,000 to make homes more flood resilient. And, affected businesses, some of which in Whitby have only just re-opened or are still closed, will be given 100 per cent relief on their business rates for three months and an extra three months to pay the business rates they owe.
He told the Gazette: “I thought this money was for the south levels that have been flooded for five weeks but when I asked the question I got assurances it was for all properties throughout various flooding instances and the tidal surges which affected properties on the East coast.
“The point was raised why was this only announced when there was flooding in the south but I think it is the extent of that which made the government realise they have to do something.”
Some of the measures that can be installed in people’s homes include shutters that can be quickly dropped over external doors and windows instead of sandbags, covers for air vents to stop water seeping in and the re-location of fuse boxes to prevent water damage getting into the electrics.
He added: “One lesson we learned was that the people that turned off electrics faired much better than those that left it turned on. Most people will get repairs done using their own insurance but this is to make properties more resilient using this £5000.”
Mr Goodwill said that while the floods were a once in a generation event - the most similar incident occuring in 1953 - he said there were still lessons to be learned.
He added: “We are seeing more and more of these things happening but everything conspired to make it as bad as it could be.
“I have been very impressed by the way that people in Whitby have rolled up their sleeves and got on with it, getting their businesses sorted very quickly indeed.
“Thank goodness it did not happen in the middle of August because it would have been a big blow to the tourist sector.”