Show of community spirit as people rally round to help Lowestoft flood victims

Michele Blatchford, Danielle Bailey (sitting) and Carly Byham with a collection of goods that has been donated to the flood victims. Michele Blatchford, Danielle Bailey (sitting) and Carly Byham with a collection of goods that has been donated to the flood victims.

Saturday, December 21, 2013
6:56 AM

A major effort is under way in Lowestoft to provide help for people whose properties were damaged by the tidal surge.

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Malcolm Gibbs from M&S painting and decorating services is helping decorate flood damaged houses for free.
Malcolm with his team of volunteers.Malcolm Gibbs from M&S painting and decorating services is helping decorate flood damaged houses for free. Malcolm with his team of volunteers.

More than 80 homes and nearly 90 businesses were flooded during the high tide on December 5.

Since then, people have rallied round to clean, redecorate and refurnish damaged homes and provide food and Christmas gifts for the victims.

Contractors working for Waveney District Council have cleared away 75 tonnes of water-damaged property and cleansed streets of silt and sewage.

The council has also arranged for dehumidifiers to be delivered to homes in St John’s Road to help dry them out.

Mum-of-two Danielle Bailey, from Corton, launched the Lowestoft Floods, Help Our People Facebook appeal on the night of the tidal surge to help people get back on their feet, either in their own homes or elsewhere.

She is being helped by Carly Byham, from Lowestoft, and Lisa Price, from Corton.

A warehouse, loaned by Leisure Foods in Colville Road, is now full and at least eight homes have been refurnished, allowing the tenants to move back in.

Miss Bailey said: “It is lovely how people have been so kind and generous and it is lovely to see where the donations are going. They are just so grateful.

“People are uninsured and couldn’t have done this themselves.”

She said the appeal did not need any more clothes or small household items. However, there was still a desperate need for large appliances including cookers, washing machines, tumble dryers and fridge freezers.

Appeal organisers are also aiming to provide every flood victim with a food hamper when they move back into their homes and non-perishable items are required.

The appeal has helped the Fyffe Centre, which was severely affected by flooding, by providing food, clothing and bedding.

The centre for homeless people has moved to a temporary base in Lowestoft High Street until its Belvedere Road premises are cleaned and redecorated.

Malcolm Gibbs, 44, who runs M&S Painting and Decorating Services, has cancelled all his paid jobs until after Christmas so he can help clean and decorate flood-damaged homes, including properties in Marine Parade, Waveney Drive and St John’s Road.

Helped by a small team of volunteers, he has worked flat out to prepare homes for the residents’ return.

He said: “People contact me every single day saying ‘can you help me’. It has been non-stop. The volunteers have been phenomenal.

“One property was quite bad but they just went in and held their breath and got on with the job. I take my hat off to them because it hasn’t been an easy job.”

Waveney leader Colin Law this week praised the community’s response to the tidal surge.

He said: “This is typical of how community spirit works. People rally round in times of adversity and pull together.

“That is exactly what is happening here and it is no more than I would expect.”

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