News from the Levels 6
MATILDA TEMPERLEY feature:
Matilda Temperley’s photograph for edition 5.
Read more about Matilda's project on Kickstarter.
Stories from residents on the Levels ...
A Schoolboy living in Muchelney
I live in the village of Muchelney with my brother, sister and parents. Almost every year at least one of the roads into the village floods, so we are all rather accustomed to flooding. The floods of last winter through were far worse and lasted far longer than we had foreseen which made things a little more difficult.
The floods came down far faster than previous years which meant there was only a couple of days when we were able to drive the 4 x 4 that my dad had bought specifically to be able to get through floods. It was especially unfortunate for my mum as her car was parked between Muchelney and Thorney and was trapped for the duration of the flooding. After two cars got stuck trying to drive along the flooded roads ,we stopped using our car and had to resort to the canoe which we had bought to get through the floods of last year.
For a few weeks we canoed through the waters, carrying the boat and all its contents over the hill in the middle of the floods and then took the car parked on the other side of the water.
The main issue was that it was unsafe to take this trip in the dark due to the risk of hitting something that might sink the boat. This meant that for a few weeks when I was required to stay late at school in Taunton, I had to board and abandon our house.
This situation was rectified by several fire engines showing up, manned by firemen from across the country, which gave lifts through the water during dark. This continued very effectively until one of the fire engines accidently drove off the road’s edge and had to be rescued by another appliance. At this point they stopped.
The replacement was a sort of tank-like vehicle. It was brought in by the army and was a Norwegian armoured personnel carrier that was designed for going through snow. It was probably the most deafeningly loud experience of my life but was dryer than the alternative.
Going to the shops was especially interesting as it required our catching a police power boat and then walking about half a mile to get to the nearest shops.
The village was very lucky on the whole as transport was arranged as quickly as expected and a huge number of people were extremely generous donating food and vital supplies to cut-off villages, as well as the London Boat Show who donated a power boat to the village, and, of course, the men and women of the emergency services who manned the fire engines and other vehicles that allowed us to maintain some semblance of normality.
An Aller Farmer
As farmers we are grateful for the support of others and it has been heartening to witness the whole community pulling together over the last few months. Going forward, we would ask everyone to continue to think of all the householders and businesses affected by the floods and how we can all work to create a local solution to the problems we have encountered.
A Bird Watcher
The strange watery landscape came as a wonderful habitat to thousands of birds. The sky was alive with wheeling lapwing, glittering dunlin and golden plover; heron, snipe and egret occupied the few unflooded droves and hundreds of teal and wigeon bobbed on the moors, their ceaseless whistling filling the air night and day. There were, alas, casualties of these unusual conditions; the barn owls on Beer Moor have not been seen since the autumn having lost their food source to the waters.
The Parrett Cafe, Langport
The floods have hit us all in different ways. People’s homes, businesses and livelihoods have been destroyed, not always with flood water in their premises, but also by not having access to villages they needed or being trapped in villages they lived in. The one thing that has kept everyone strong through this is the true community spirit within Somerset. This spirit has ridden in everyone, from farmers using their tractors to get locals out of villages, to businesses donating time and money towards MuchThorn Wings, a local charity set up by Clare Paul at the Parrett Cafe in Langport. This charity has helped residents of Muchelney and Thorney though the floods with supplies of clean drinking water, ready meals and cleaning supplies. It also helped fund different ways of getting to and from flooded villages, including a boat at Muchelney and Water Wings at Thorney. We are continuing to help with the clean-up and to inform tourists that Somerset is open for business our lovely county is no longer under water and can now be fully explored.
Jessie and Abby