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School run and commute is a daily slog

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 29, 2014

By Tina Rowe

  • Water Minister George Eustice met residents of Long Sutton

  • Top and bottom: Erin Whitehead, with sisters Gemma and Emily Bradley, pose for pictures and chat with crew members as they take the support boat from school back to their homes in marooned Muchelney. Centre, also waiting for a ride home after school are Kit Field and Joe Walker from Muchelney Pictures: Fran Stothard

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tina.rowe@b-nm.co.uk

The evening road home from work to Muchelney no longer has to involve a lengthy walk in the dark through water three feet deep.

Amphibious vehicles are now ploughing through the water, and helping to take some of the burden from the temporary boat service, which is much appreciated but does not run after 4pm. An amphibious vehicle was running until midnight on Monday night. As the village approaches the end of its fourth week marooned by floods schoolchildren are still among those being ferried back and forth by the boat, provided by Somerset County Council, and crewed by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue.

Mother of two Tineka Bradley, whose daughters, Gemma, 13, and Emily, ten, were aboard said the amphibious vehicles will also be welcome for youngsters feeling cold and tired.

She is a single parent and said she is sad that the floods mean the children's father, who lives outside the village cannot get to see them as much of them as usual. "And it's frustrating that as a self-employed person I can't give my full time to my business because of all have to think about," she said.

Alistair Mullineaux, chairman of the parish meeting added: "We are very grateful for all the help of the emergency services, particularly since the Major Incident was declared."

Kit Field, 13, was back in the village for the first time yesterday since the floods began. His parents, Keith and Helen, and sister Maddie, 16, decamped to his grandparents' home in Charlton Mackrell, partly to make sure Mrs Field, a social worker, could get to work and Mr Field could get on with his business.

George Eustice, Minister for Environment, Water and Rural Affairs met residents of Long Sutton at the flood-damaged golf club at the weekend after being invited to see the problems for himself by David Warburton, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Somerton and Frome

Meanwhile Jean Venables, chief executive of the Association of Drainage Authorities, said it was "very, very urgent" that rivers in the area are dredged to prevent more damage to homes, livelihoods and wildlife.

"It's a disaster area down there and it could have been avoided if we had actually kept up with maintenance on the rivers," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We've got a 20-year backlog of inactivity down there and it is actually very, very urgent that those rivers are dredged."

However Environment Agency chairman Lord Chris Smith, who acknowledged that the Levels had suffered a "terrible impact" from the recent floods, insisted dredging was not a significant factor.

"It would not have solved the problems that we are facing at the moment," he told Today.

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