Worst of the flooding might be over but big clean-up has only just started for homeowners
WITH a hose in his hand to clear out the water from his friend's living room, Ken Gibbs said it was one of the worst cases of flooding he had seen in 32 years.
As a former firefighter, Ken has been involved in plenty of water rescue operations – but, yesterday, he was trying to save neighbour Steve Mulvaney's flooring and furniture.
And, with at least 50 homes flooded and scores of streets drenched in Derbyshire over the past five days, his clean-up efforts were being mirrored across the county.
Experts said Derbyshire has now experienced the worst of the flooding, with no heavy rain predicted for the next few days.
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Ken, who lives near Steve in Repton Road, Willington, said: "We've been here for nearly 32 years and this was really quite bad.
"The water came to the bottom of the drive this time but it makes a bigger difference to those houses on the other side.
"The worst thing we have had is the problem of people coming down here and driving so quickly, they create enormous bow waves.
"The waves make it even worse for those that are already flooded. We tried to tell them to slow down but all we got was abuse.
"But we all help in the village – everyone mucks in and supports those that are in trouble."
Steve came back home from his work at Rolls-Royce on Monday morning to find water in his house.
He said his next challenge was to sort out the insurance for the flooring and other items that have been ruined by water.
The 60-year-old said: "A neighbour rang me to tell me it was getting a bit bad and, when I came back, it was flooded.
"The stream outside is normally six inches deep but it was five feet deep. The water table is right up and that has just come up through the floor. I had the flood defences round the doors – and they actually worked well – but there isn't much you can do about the water table.
"The whole of the underneath of the house was flooded, which was why we were pumping it out. We were then trying to dry the floorboards as best we could."
Homes, businesses and schools have all been affected by the flooding in the county over the past five days – with towns and villages in South Derbyshire among the hardest-hit.
Roads were also shut after some of the county's rivers burst their banks. The A38 between Burnaston and Lichfield was closed, causing hours of delays. Yesterday, it was partially reopened, as highways officials attempted to clear water from the carriageway.
The worst now appears to be over, according to a spokeswoman for the Environment Agency. She said the levels of both the River Dove and River Trent had already peaked and, with no heavy rain predicted, river levels were expected to continue falling.
She also said the agency was "not expecting any issues" in Derby, as the River Derwent was also due to peak last night.
Some residents were not taking any chances, with water levels still so close to their homes.
Carole Meads, of Bargate Lane, Willington, said: "I got the call to warn me about the flood at 1.45am on Monday and the police came and gave us some sandbags, which I used around the door.
"Later that morning, my neighbours helped move all the stuff up on to blocks, which took four hours.
"Fortunately, the defences weren't tested, as it just came up to the door, but I did have to move the chickens as they were close to being flooded out.
"Moving everything is not the kind of thing you can do at the drop of a hat, though, so I will be keeping it all up on blocks and the flood defences at the doors, just in case we get any more rain."
Flooding is a frequent problem in Willington but Carole did not believe there was anything which could be done.
She said: "We get flooded because the water table rises. You could build the defences as high as you want but it won't stop that."
While many in Willington were clearing the water out of their homes, couple Gail and Dave Harris were finally packing their belongings into a removal van. They were planning to move on Monday but after their Repton Road home was left in six inches of water they were left unable to get their possessions out.
Gail, 50, and Dave, 66, moved into the property in 2002 and had never been flooded before.
She said: "I feel so sorry for the people that are moving into this mess. They are a lovely couple and I really feel like I should be here taking care of things – because it is my problem.
"We didn't want to move but we have had to, because I have a heart problem and we need to have something smaller. It also means that I haven't been able to help out with doing any of the clearing up.
"But the neighbours have been fantastic. They came round and helped when the water started getting higher and put sofas and things into crates.
"It's heart-breaking to see the house ruined but, at the end of the day, it is one of those things. There was nothing we could do to stop it, nobody has been hurt and carpets can be replaced. I just feel awful for the new couple."