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Clean-up operations start after flooding in Ironbridge

By Lisa O'Brien | Ironbridge | News | Published:

Clean-up operations have started after flooding caused devastation to parts of Ironbridge.

Chris Harrison, co-owner of Dale End Cafe, which was flooded twice

Homeowners and businesses in the town have been left counting the cost in the aftermath of Storm Dennis.

A 'danger to life' warning remained in place for the town yesterday amid fears that the flood barriers may still not hold against the force of the water.

The flood barriers up in Ironbridge

However some roads and car parks had reopened, including The Wharfage which was accessible on foot.

Homes and businesses in the area were evacuated on Tuesday due to rising river levels cracking the road surface.

The Ironbridge Gorge was placed under a severe threat, with the River Severn peaking at 6.52m on Tuesday evening.

River levels are slowly beginning to fall but wet and windy conditions continued yesterday and more rain is forecast this week.

Dale End Cafe in Coalbrookdale was flooded

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One of the businesses hardest hit by the floods was the Dale End Cafe in Coalbrookdale.

In the space of about 48 hours it was flooded twice, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Chris Harrison has been running the cafe with his wife Sharon Shenton for the past two years.

"In the early hours of Sunday morning the brook burst its banks without any warning to us," said Mr Harrison, 47, from Trench.

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The Dale End cafe flooded

"I was here at 1.15am after I got a call from our friends at Copper Fox. "Everything was destroyed, the water inside the cafe was just below window level.

"The equipment was contaminated with sewerage and foul water and needed to be disposed.

"My instant reaction was that it's over. I uploaded a picture on Facebook saying we wouldn't be open and suddenly we started getting messages of support straight away.

"Residents were supplying us with tea and coffee, people came to offer a hug and support.

"The wider community turned up later with shovels and brooms. The community in Coalbrookdale are the best."

Chris Harrison, co-owner of Dale End Cafe

Just as the clean-up had begun, in the early hours on Tuesday morning the cafe was under water again.

"Inside the shop the River Severn was coming up through the floor," said Mr Harrison.

"It was above waist height inside.

"We took a gamble two years ago knowing that we couldn't get insurance and that it could possibly flood. "With what we've created here that gamble was worth it, even though we have lost everything. By hook or by crook we are going to try and reopen again but it won't be for at least a month.

"We are both broken but we cannot thank the community enough."

Tony Baggott from Ironbridge Interiors

Ironbridge Interiors, in Merrythought Village, was flooded with six inches of water on Tuesday.

Owner Tony Baggott said: "This is our first flood here. Our production was down for two days but we've managed to reopen.

"Some of the plinth boards needed replacing.

"It could have been a lot worse. We count ourselves quite lucky.

"No customers have been affected regarding their orders, we had to put deliveries coming in on hold but they are starting up again."

Sandbags used by Ironbridge Interiors

He said staff were forced to fetch sandbags and thanked Telford-based MSM Hire for bringing more to their door.

Mr Baggott added: "I think it was handled as well as could be expected.

"I want to thank the local people who came in, they helped to sweep up and threw things in the skip."

Ironbridge Interiors was flooded with six inches of water

Some residents along The Wharfage refused to leave their homes when the call to evacuate was made, including 80-year-old Margaret Wheeldon.

She said: "A council worker came to the door.

"He said they are evacuating The Wharfage, but I wanted to stay because I'm warm, safe and dry.

"He was quite concerned. He wanted to know if I had supplies in, which I did. I thought that was thoughtful and kind.

"The council have been first class. None of us have felt forgotten or neglected.

"I've been here for 35 years, I've seen the river levels this high. I'm lucky in my situation as I'm up the steps."

Telford & Wrekin Council says it expects flood barriers to remain in place for a number of days.

Council teams have been out doing welfare checks and assisting those who need it.

Chief executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service, Anthony Marsh said many of its staff had literally dropped what they were doing to come into work and help save lives.

He said: “I am incredibly proud of the way our staff rose to the challenge of getting to patients during the recent flooding.”

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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