Prince witnesses ‘stoic spirit’ of flood hit in Cumbria

The Prince of Wales walks around the McVitie's factory in Carlisle, which was damaged in the floods earlier in the month. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales walks around the McVitie's factory in Carlisle, which was damaged in the floods earlier in the month. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
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IT was raining once again when Prince Charles saw for himself some of the devastation wreaked by Storm Desmond in Cumbria today. And it may not be over.

A severe weather warning for rain is again in place across Cumbria, just weeks after the storm flooded swathes of the region over December 5 and 6.

The Prince of Wales talks to well wishers during a visit to the McVitie's factory in Carlisle, which was damaged in the floods earlier in the month. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales talks to well wishers during a visit to the McVitie's factory in Carlisle, which was damaged in the floods earlier in the month. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The families visited by the Prince will not be in their homes this Christmas, but said his visit brought some much-needed Christmas cheer,

Dorothy and David Richardson, both aged 72, showed him around the downstairs of their home in Carlisle, where they had lived for almost 50 years. The flood, the third time their house had been engulfed, left it under more than two feet of water. It will be September until their house is habitable again.

Accompanied by four of their grandchildren, they showed Charles the holes in the bare floorboards of their now empty downstairs living rooms and kitchen, still drying out.

Mrs Richardson told Charles the warnings of flooding meant many possessions were saved by being taken upstairs before water came through the floor and doors - but the TV and other furniture were ruined.

The retired nurse said: “It feels a bit surreal really, but it’s very kind of him to come and think about us. He has a special feeling about Cumbria.”

Next door the front garden of Keith Wright’s house contained the wreckage of a £20,000 brand new kitchen fitted in his house - a week before the floods hit.

Holding his dog, Buster, Mr Wright, 62, who runs a home care agency business with wife Brenda, 42, spoke to the Prince.

He said: “He was just very apologetic and just hoping things were going to work out for the future. I’m quite an optimistic person by heart. My wife is very upset.”

Earlier Charles heard about the dramatic rescue of an elderly woman trapped underneath her stair lift as the floods hit.

Members of the armed forces told the Prince how the woman had been trapped for five hours and floodwater had risen to her chest. They were able to pull her from the floodwater and stretcher her out of the house on her dining table. 
Lance Corporal Harry Kenyon, of Blenheim Company, 2nd Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, told Prince Charles that she displayed the stoic spirit that has come to define the brave Cumbrians hit by Storm Desmond. After hearing the officers were able to carry the woman to safety before she was hurt, the Prince said: “Thank goodness.”

Charles also visited the home of Barry Cookson, 58, on Warwick Road. Afterwards he said: “What a lovely man. He really seemed to care. He asked in detail about how I am coping, what support we’ve had.”

The Prince also visited a community centre to meet members of the emergency services, and the McVitie’s factory in Carlisle, to learn how floods affected the business.

Earlier this month, Charles made an undisclosed private donation to the Cumbria Community Foundation to help those affected, and his Prince’s Countryside Fund also released £40,000 from its emergency fund and launched a public appeal, which has raised a further £20,000.

CUMBRIA, along with West Yorkshire, Lancashire and parts of Wales, have been warned to expect heavy rain.

The Met Office yesterday issued a severe weather warning for the areas, in place until 6pm today, for between 25-50ml of rain, and up to 80ml expected on higher ground.

Grahame Madge, spokesman for the Met Office, said some of this weather could continue into the Christmas weekend.

He said: “From Wednesday to Saturday, the forecast remains unsettled and there will be showers for many and some bands of persistent rain coming through.”