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Flooded villagers kept afloat by support of good neighbours

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

  • DRAMATIC COMMUTE: Muchelney children head back to their flooded village after school on the boat donated and equipped by local businesses. Inset, Gemma Bradley, 11, Isobel Edwards, 5, Jessica Edwards, 9, and Emily Bradley, 9, hop aboard. Pictures by Laura Jones

  • Ken Jackson and Alastair Mullineux coming in to collect the schoolchildren

  • Muchlelney children head back to their flooded village by boat after school

  • The flooded road into Muchelney

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Stranded residents in a flooded village near Langport have been overwhelmed by the support given from neighbouring communities rallying around to help.

Muchelney remains cut off almost a week after the floods, with several miles of road still under five feet of water, so local businesses donated a boat to help the new ‘islanders’ reach dry ground.

Muchelney resident Alastair Mullineux is co-ordinating use of the boat to ferry local residents and provisions to and from the village.

He said: “We’ve had lots of offers of help and have been managing with canoes and one small dinghy, but having our own large, engine-powered boat is fantastic.

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“We will use it to ferry children so they can get back to school, and for people from the village to get food, medicines and other essential items.”

The boat was launched into the flooded lanes just outside Langport on Saturday with its first delivery of provisions, including home deliveries from Tesco.

The inflatable boat came from Yeovil-based Ribcraft, an electric engine has been supplied by Torqeedo, with a back-up engine from Dorset-based Rob Perry Marine, and the craft is fully insured by Higos Insurances Services.

The operation was co-ordinated by Alice Driscoll, managing director of marine specialist PR agency ADPR, near South Petherton.

Mr Mullineux added: “We’re incredibly grateful for all the help provided by these local companies. This is the most water we’ve seen in living memory and it may go on for a few more days yet.

“We can now set up regular ferry times and we can’t thank everyone enough.”

Despite the flood, members of the community of around 120 people have been trying to carry on as normally as possible.

Even the Sunday service at the church of St Peter and St Paul went ahead as Rev Jess Pitman hitched a ride through the floodwaters with local farmer Richard Hodder.

The British Red Cross emergency response team is working in partnership with Somerset County Council’s civil contingency unit to continually assess the situation.

The council contacted the Burnham Area Rescue boat which has been delivering food, drinks, and prescriptions, as well as ferrying residents to Langport for shopping.

Wessex 4x4 Response has also been helping by taking villagers into nearby Langport after disembarking.

Mike Dennett, store manager at Tesco Langport, said: “With some help from the emergency services, we’ve been able to donate some food essentials to customers who are stuck in their homes.”

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “The water won’t disappear overnight, but local people should notice a difference over the coming days as the water is gradually emptied into rivers.

“More wet weather could slow the down the process.”

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