Rothbury flood defences set to be improved after Environment Agency announce new measures

Flood defences which aim to prevent elderly residents at Rothbury suffering a second time look set to be upgraded

Duchess of Northumberland officially reopens Armstrong Cottages in Rothbury. Resident Mary Carr 80 shows the Duchess round her newly refurbished cottages
Duchess of Northumberland officially reopens Armstrong Cottages in Rothbury. Resident Mary Carr 80 shows the Duchess round her newly refurbished cottages

Plans have been drawn up to improve flood defences in a Northumberland village to increase protection for elderly residents who were forced from their homes.

The Environment Agency has announced a number of measures to upgrade defences at Rothbury, where elderly residents at a sheltered housing scheme were out of their homes for more than a year following a major flood in 2008.

The plans have been welcomed by one of those who had to leave her home and by a village councillor.

The Armstrong Cottages were among scores of homes flooded in the village, during heavy rain which hit Northumberland in September 2008.

Elderly residents had to be helped from their homes, some being carried out.

Properties were under five feet of water, causing extensive damage to them and their belongings.

Due to the 12 listed properties having stone walls, they had to be left for six months to dry out, with residents having to find alternative places to live.

Eventually a £700,000 renovation could begin and as properties were finished, residents returned – some more than a year after the floods.

Following the events of 2008, a flood gate was constructed at the entrance to Riverside, to allow more time in the event that the elderly residents in and around Armstrong Cottages needed evacuating again.

Duchess of Northumberland officially reopens Armstrong Cottages in Rothbury. Resident Mary Carr 80 shows the duchess round her newly refurbished cottages
Duchess of Northumberland officially reopens Armstrong Cottages in Rothbury. Resident Mary Carr 80 shows the duchess round her newly refurbished cottages
 

In 2012, ten residents were escorted from their homes as a precaution as the village flooded, although water did not enter their homes.

The agency has now revealed plans to upgrade those defences, in the coming months, subject to planning permission.

Officials there are planning to replace the demountable flood defence with a pair of one metre high flood gates.

Repairs would also be made to the nearest sections of adjoining wall.

Agency project manager Ineke Jackson said: “This work aims to make the defences quicker to put in place in times of flooding, and more reliable.”

Northumberland County Councillor for Rothbury Steven Bridgett claimed the work was planned as water had seeped through “cracks” in the walls adjoining the flood gate in the 2012 event.

He said: “I think everyone can appreciate it, particularly the residents in Armstrong Cottages. It is just to improve what is there basically.”

Armstrong Cottages resident Mary Carr, 85, was out of her home for a year and ten days after the 2008 flood and lost all her furniture.

Mrs Carr said residents had not experienced any flooding since then and had not noticed any problems with the current defences.

Yet she welcomed the planned work saying: “That is a good idea, because of the way the weather is. Our seasons are so different.”

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