Shop owners say things are finally returning to normal more than a year after devastating floods swamped their businesses.
But with engineers only now beginning to shore up some homes, families are unlikely to be back before May next year.
Homes in Newburn’s Spencer Court blocks A, C and D must be stabilised before the street’s B block can be demolished, and yesterday four months of work began to try and make the area safe for residents to return.
Yet further downstream it’s “business as usual”, with KB Cycles owner Keith Bradley saying trade has doubled since he returned from temporary premises in Blaydon - though he’s still apprehensive every time it rains.
“It took a lot of sorting out but when we came back but we’ve been blown away by customers’ support,” said Keith, whose store was not only flooded, but looted of £20,000 worth of bikes.
“A lot of people had been following what happened and thought we wouldn’t come back.
“But we’re very pleased to be back, morale in the team is better, and since our return we’re doing double the business we were in Blaydon.”
Outside the shop new gullies have been installed to guide surface water into the culvert, while a large area in the car park directly above the waterway has had panels installed which can be lifted off to provide access if required. Grills have been installed within the culvert to try and prevent larger tree branches and debris from blocking the flow of water.
At either side of the road, brick walls have also been removed so that should all the other measures fail and water did overtop the culvert, it could keep flowing downstream, rather than being held back and flowing into the business.
The shop itself has been refitted and restocked at a cost of almost £150,000.
“We had to have everything replaced as the water was halfway up the walls and then the damp rose from there,” said Keith.
“We even had to replace things like the staff kitchen, and in the workshop it had new windows, new floors and surfaces and new tools. It’s amazing the damage water can do – but it wasn’t just inside, but outside too.
“And I know people knock the council but I can’t. What we wanted, they did it.
“Two days before we wanted to be back they had 30 blokes outside working, making sure we could be.”
Yet while saying that he is “confident to get on with business” and that he can now concentrate on customers, Keith still admits to having apprehension each time the sky darkens.
“We’ve had very heavy showers and I’ll admit I was sceptical about the new defences,” he said. “We got the sandbags out just in case – but there was not a problem.
“I suppose it just goes to show we’re still not quite over it.”