Bridgwater wall collapse man's Christmas fear

A Somerset man says he might not be able to go home for Christmas after a riverside wall collapsed.

Dave Swann, 44, said an engineer told him it could take months before his Bridgwater flat was safe to return to.

Nineteen properties were evacuated on Friday after 20mm of rain fell in 24 hours and caused the West Quay wall, on the River Parrett, to crack.

Allison Griffin, from the council, said it could be up to six months before people were back in their properties.

The Environment Agency said residents would not be allowed to return home until it was safe for them to do so.

Ms Griffin, corporate director for Sedgemoor District Council, said she "wouldn't like to give any guarantees".

"I would hope there would be some in before Christmas, on the periphery of the site, but for those worst affected it could be up to six months," she said.

Mr Swann, who is living at a nearby YMCA, said he was "devastated" at the thought of being away from home for the festive season.

"Nobody official is saying anything - they are keeping very tight-lipped," he said.

"I spoke to one of the engineers on the bridge and he seems to think it will be a few months but nobody has said anything official.

Image caption Engineers are still trying to discover the extent of the damage

"We had a gathering at the council offices yesterday and thought we were going to be told something then, but all it was for was so that they could take us back to our homes to get some belongings together."

The partially-collapsed wall by Fisherman's Wharf was reported to be slipping at 15mm per day.

Paul Gainey, from the Environment Agency, said the buildings nearby were not deemed safe to let people back in but the position was being reassessed on a daily basis.

"The priority at present is to stabilise and then work out a long term solution," he said.

Engineers are still trying to discover the extent of the damage and the stability of the remaining wall and road.

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