Tyne & Wear

Morpeth flood remembered 10 years on in exhibition

A resident is taken to safety aboard a dinghy Image copyright PA
Image caption The RNLI was dispatched to aid the rescue effort

A flood which hit 1,000 homes and businesses in a Northumberland town is being remembered 10 years on.

About 250 people were cared for in rest centres and temporary accommodation when two months' rain fell in Morpeth in 24 hours in September 2008.

Almost every road in the town was impassable and the nearby village of Rothbury was effectively marooned.

The Flood Remembered, at Morpeth Town Hall across the weekend, will feature residents' recollections and photos.

There will also be poetry and music.

Emergency services declared a major incident and 180 firefighters were called into action when the River Wansbeck overflowed on the afternoon of Saturday 6 September, 2008.

Image copyright David Thompson
Image caption Resident David Thompson captured this image of the river rising

Jan Clarke, who had to leave her home in Middle Greens, Morpeth, is among the residents who have contributed to the anniversary event and said she felt a "horrified fascination" looking at photographs.

"We were trying to protect our homes, then literally escaping the rising waters," she said.

"I remember feeling so helpless watching the huge volume of water coming down the river knowing there was absolutely nothing we could do to stop it.

"Pictures don't show the power of the water. It was fast, it was carrying trees and other debris with it.

"And the noise, I can still hear it now."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Some residents had to be carried to safety as the flood waters deepened

In a report compiled in the aftermath of the flood, Northumberland County Council described the overflowing of the river's banks as a "defining moment".

As existing defences "could no longer cope with such large volumes of water", it began to flow around obstacles and barriers "at a rapid rate".

Further devastation followed in 2012 with a second major flood.

The council then undertook a £26m flood prevention scheme, which stores millions of gallons of water upstream when levels rise.

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