Longridge counts the cost of flooding damage

Longridge counts the cost of flooding damage

James Preston

Longridge counts the cost of flooding damage

A foul smell fills the air and sludge and silt covers saturated floors and walls.

Longridge chief executive Amanda Foister at the centre, which is still partially flooded

Equipment stands ruined, the ground is churned up and, over a week since the worst of the wet weather passed, the River Thames is still lapping dangerously close to the cafe of Longridge Activity Centre in Bisham.

Water levels are dropping, slowly, but at the peak of the floods the river was unstoppable as it came up through the floors of nearly all of the centre's building, going from ankle to knee-height in a matter of minutes.

"It was extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary," said Longridge chief executive Amanda Foister.

"It just came in.

"We did everything we could have done and the team worked round the clock to protect the buildings."

Despite staff members working in three-hour shifts to pump out water and clear equipment, the river still managed to seep into all but one of the centre's buildings.

A portable cabin used for a youth club may have seen its last days, while dehumidifiers are working overtime to dry out the freezing cold reception and office area.

Some buildings will need only cosmetic repairs, others may have serious structural damage, but the cost of the flooding at the centre, in Quarry Wood Road, is estimated to come to £100,000.

Amanda shows reporter James Preston the extent of the damage in the buildings

But despite the mess Longridge has been left in the message from staff is clear - it is still open for business.

"The best way of supporting Longridge is by using it," said Amanda.

"The worst case scenario is financial.

"We will operate but, say, for example, people see the flooding and say 'we are not going to visit Longridge'.

"It we don't bring in that revenue we can't operate.

"There's no reason why the outdoor activities can't operate as we have the instructors and we have the equipment."

The centre has bookings for 90,000 visitors, the first of which are due in the February half term, and fully intends to meet its commitments.

To do it, it desperately needs the support of the community and has already had donors come forward with furniture, tiles and heaters and dehumidifiers to help out.

But repairs cannot be carried out until water levels have receded and the team can be sure flooding will not occur again.

It is hoped the centre's annual spring clean, which this year takes place from March 15-16, will attract more volunteers than ever before to help restore Longridge to its best in time for the summer season.

Amanda said: "Everybody has been really positive and there's so many people asking what they can do.

"All of the team are completely dedicated and passionate about what we do and take it very personally when the centre is hurt."

Contact Amanda on  07540 411779 to help out.

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