11 Mar Croston Community Spirit Created from Local Catastrophe
In her first blog, Claire Caunce shares her personal experience of the flooding of her home village Croston which inspired a positive community spirit to survive the flood and look beyond the devastation to the future.
On Boxing Day 2015, the small village of Croston in Lancashire flooded. There were stories on the news of properties several feet underwater and of an army chinook helicopter dropping bags of sands to fill the gap in the River Douglas wall.
This wasn’t the first time that Croston had flooded. I recall it flooding at least three or four times in the past thirty years, though this was the worst in living memory. Over Boxing Day, all anyone could do was watch the water rise. It was a frightening and shocking experience. The water rose so quickly and in some places the current was very strong – it could easily have taken you off your feet. Home owners tell stories of the water running straight through the house from the back door through to the front door – or of fridge freezers being toppled over by the sheer force.
Ultimately, nearly three hundred homes were affected, including many which have previously never flooded. Sadly, over thirty homes remain uninhabitable with families either renting or residing in local hotels. Local businesses sustained considerable and devastating damage including pubs and restaurants which suffered from closures during what should have been the busiest time of year.
The local sports club acted as the designated flood relief centre, providing camp beds, showers and a kitchen for some of the worst affected. The club acted not only as a refuge but also as a hub for the village. Social media was an invaluable source of news and a platform for requests for assistance reaching far and wide.
The community spirit and camaraderie were amazing. Following early morning reports of the likelihood of flooding, many villagers came together to offer assistance to others in need; filling sandbags and delivering them to vulnerable properties, assisting shop owners move stock and helping neighbours move furniture. New, enduring friendships have been formed as a result of these trying and difficult times.
The support received from around the country and even further afield has been phenomenal. Within days we were inundated with offers of food, cleaning materials, clothing, bedding, furniture and much more. Some travelled hundreds of miles to deliver cooked meals for free. Others offered transport, lent out dehumidifiers or even a room to sleep in. Companies have also offered their extensive support in delivering free supplies, offering special discounts and storage solutions. Local tradesmen gave their time and supplies for free – making safe electricity points and gas appliances.
Two months on and people are still helping one another. Offering time and personal assistance, the community have also rallied to provide financial support. A handful of people have come together to form the Croston Flood Relief Fund which has received thousands of pounds in donations for those in need. Several local schools have raised considerable sums through non-uniform day.
Last month the village community came together for Croston Music Fest which raised more much appreciated funds as over thirty acts offered to perform for free. Local trades and businesses again stepped up, offering PA systems, an amazing tee-pee and printed timetables. Sadly, two of the community centres remain closed following the flooding, though acts in eight venues across the village, including pubs, restaurants and the Methodist Church did not disappoint!
As devastating as the flooding and the ensuing mess were, what strikes most of all is the way people have come together to help others even when they themselves have suffered. Many have likened the community togetherness to blitz spirit. It serves as a reminder that, in moments of need, there are always people with time to spend, help to give and love to share.
#CrostonTogether isn’t just a hashtag. It’s a state of mind!