Spanish floods: Expat couple 'humbled' after losing home

Richard Image copyright Richard Cavender
Image caption Richard Cavender's home in the Valencia province was destroyed by the floods

An expat couple who lost their home after floods struck south-east Spain have been "humbled" by the response.

At least five people died and 3,500 were evacuated from their homes as rivers burst their banks in areas which saw the heaviest rainfall on record.

The home of Richard and Liesl Cavender, originally from Northamptonshire, collapsed on Sunday, but they have been put up by a friend of a friend.

"I had no idea until now people cared that much about us," said Mr Cavender.

Image copyright Richard Cavender
Image caption The area where their house used to be has been devastated

The couple left Irthlingborough 13 years ago and lived in the town of Almoradi, near the Segura river.

Mr Cavender, 51, said they were told to evacuate on 13 September, and took an emergency bag and their dogs.

They left their five cats behind and "literally minutes later" a section of a retaining wall around the river collapsed, flooding the town.

Two days later their home collapsed.

Image copyright Richard Cavender
Image caption Richard Cavender was able to get his car away from the flooding in time, but his wife's car fell victim to the waters

Mr Cavender said: "There was devastation everywhere. It's how I would imagine a warzone to be.

"The army were drafted in. There were [fresh] water barrels in the street because the water was contaminated and queues of people waiting. It was Armageddon."

They went back for their cats but only found one, who they may rename "Noah" - after the biblical figure who survived the Old Testament flood.

Image copyright Richard Cavender
Image caption Richard found his cat Ginger, but his four others are still missing

He said people, including family in the UK, had been "amazing" and one holidaymaker gave the couple and two of their friends the keys to a home he owned.

Mr Cavender said the man told him "I'm going back to the UK. The fridge is full, the booze is over there and it's yours for as long as you need it".

Despite this, the couple's IT business is still running and they hope to move to another home they own in Spain in the near future.

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