Embattled residents of flooded English village protect memories

Wed Feb 19, 2014 9:53am EST
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MOORLAND, England (Reuters) - The village of Moorland in southwest England lies largely deserted, eerily silent save for the creaking of flood defenses which failed to stop the flow of muddy brown water now standing chest-high along its main street.

Its residents were among thousands across England who fell victim to the country's wettest January in nearly 250 years, with heavy rain and storms damaging homes, businesses and transport links and heaping pressure on a government criticized for being too slow to react.

In Moorland, part of the badly hit Somerset Levels region where more than 65 million cubic meters of flood water is being pumped out at a rate of 3 million cubic meters a day, water stretches out in all directions as far as the eye can see.

The air reeks of petrol leaking from cars which float abandoned along with other debris in the still-rising water. Sandbags are stacked up outside empty houses.

Phil Vize is one of a handful of residents who remain, water lapping around his legs as he makes coffee in the kitchen of the house his wife's family have lived in for generations.

He has moved what furniture would fit into the upstairs rooms of the house, but his collection of vintage cars already lies submerged outside.

"I'm trying to save everything I can but there's just too much stuff, too many memories," he said.

Most of Moorland's few remaining residents say they will try to save photos and pets if they are forced to go.

"Once the sentimentality was out of the way I wasn't bothered about my TV etc, I was only interested in my pets," said dog-owner Angela Greenway, who is co-coordinating the distribution of donated supplies from her house.   Continued...

Builder Derek Bristow, 64, poses outside his house with one of the photos he will rescue first if the flood water rises any further in his house, in the flooded Somerset village of Moorland February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton