Corbridge couple Liz and John Holmes have taken refuge in Minsteracres since they passed a terrifying night on Saturday stranded in the upstairs of their house by rising floodwater.
“We had been away for the weekend in Yorkshire when we began to get flood warnings from the Environment Agency,” says Liz, whose day job is Minsteracres’ outreach coordinator. “By the time we got home and moved as much as we could upstairs it was too late to leave.”
“With an inch of water creeping into the house we just had time to make something to eat,” says John, “It was like a last supper before the deluge!”
Veterans of the last flood in 2005 when three feet of water invaded the house, they stacked furniture, crockery and other items onto the sturdy dining table and lifted what they could onto higher surfaces. This time though the water surged to 5½ feet.
“The noise of the water swirling around downstairs kept us awake all night. In the end, the dining table was bobbing around like a cork. When it tipped up, the furniture and crockery came off, smashing the light fitting as it fell.
“Outside the swirling water was seven or eight feet high, with dangerous currents and three to four foot waves crashing against the house” says John. “The current was like a spin dryer! We were waiting for a major collapse.
“It demolished garages and garden walls. Later, I found the garden storage unit way across the fields with the lawn mower still inside.”
With no phone signal between them, they were anxious that their daughter and son would be worried about what was going on. “As it got light on Sunday morning I shouted across to the waiting policemen and asked them to get a message to our daughter Kate and she was able to let our friends know what was happening,” says Liz.
Apart from lack of sleep from the banging and crashing and the flashing lights of the emergency services, they were both cold and hungry by the time they were rescued around midday on the Sunday.
“Once the water came in we didn’t really have time to do much more than get upstairs out of the way and forgot to take any food with us, though we did have candles and a torch.“
Once out of the house they made straight for Minsteracres, arriving just in time for a roast dinner. “As soon as we arrived they fed us and offered to put us up” says Liz.
“I thank God for Minsteracres. It truly has been a port in the storm. It’s lovely to be able to relax and be looked after.”
The couple face a long wait before they get back into their home. In the meantime, they have found a house to rent in nearby Hexham.
The drama of their rescue was captured by the cameras, and Liz and John inadvertently became the face of the floods appearing on the TV news as well as local, regional and national paper, including a mention in this one from the Guardian