River levels in Salford may have returned to normal but for hundreds of families hit by devastating Boxing Day floods, life is anything but.
Donations of food, cleaning equipment, clothes, bedding and toys are still pouring in to the Beacon Centre on London Street in Salford.
But for those who had to be evacuated when the River Irwell burst its banks on 26 December, there’s more worry and expense to come.
John Connolly, 58, lives with his wife on Heath Avenue in Lower Broughton, one of the worst-affected areas.
That day he’d been to pick up his son, but returning home, the estate was completely flooded and impassable.
Ditching his car at the nearby River View Primary School as he walked to his front door the water was already up to his ankles.
“It was going dark, and there was water everywhere, all the footpaths were flooded, the garden was flooded.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before.
“I was just sat in my house taking pictures and laughing at it all – because if we didn’t laugh, we’d have cried, and we cried anyway.”
It destroyed not only his carpets, cooker, flooring and the plastering on his walls, but also all the toys his wife uses as part of her home childminding business.
Now John’s waiting for the insurance estimators to come round but at a rough estimate he says the flood could have caused £10,000 of damage to this one house alone.
Recent estimates put the number of houses affected to at least 400 – some 120 privately-owned homes, with the rest let out by Salix Homes housing association.
Today at the Beacon Centre on London Street Baronness Susan Williams of Trafford, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, met with volunteers to praise the “staggering” relief effort set up in the wake of the Salford floods.
There is £500 of immediate, urgent funding available, and Baroness Williams told SalfordOnline.com today that another £5,000 per household will be made available to each household through Salford City Council.
“We want to be as ‘bureacracy-lite’ as we can to allow councils to determine the best way to direct these funds,” she said.
Chancellor George Osborne, in announcing this £50 million flood relief fund back in December 2015, said it would be down to local councils to distribute this cash.
A post-mortem of exactly what went wrong is now underway, and Baronness Williams said government were considering a formal review into how flood spending is handed out, and how the government can react to the effects of climate change.
“We need to look at how we’re providing flood defences in a way that’s responsive to future emergencies.
“Flood defences, water management and planning for different and more extreme types of weather is going to be part and parcel of the review,” she added.
Main image (L-R): Lee Sugden, Chief Executive, Salix Homes, Baroness Williams, Cllr Jim King