A year on since the flooding which wrought havoc on Laxey, villagers are still coming to terms with the consequences.
Residents of Glen Road in particular are still feeling the effects of last October’s destructive floods, with some still not back in their homes, and many struggling to get affordable home insurance.
Ahead of the first anniversary of the floods, Manx Utilities unveiled its £10m plans to protect homes in the village from future extreme weather events.
Plans went on display at a drop-in session in Laxey Working Men’s Institute earlier this week.
Laxey resident Jill Kimber, who lives at the bottom of Glen Road, had her house flooded in 2015 as well as last year, which left her garden in 3ft of water.
Despite all her precautions to prevent flooding from the river, the house was flooded from the other side by rainwater coming off Minorca Hill.
Because of the damage, she was only just able to move back in before lockdown began.
Asked if she felt the government had been doing enough to protect Laxey, she said: ’We feel like the forgotten people.
’I think for many years they have ignored it and hoped it would go away. When we had the flooding in 2002, people said that was a once in a lifetime event.
’But then it happened again in 2015, and now last year. They do little bits and pieces, but they never address the real issue.
’There isn’t enough upkeep and maintenance on the drains. The main problem is that they don’t listen to the local people.
’There are people who have lived here for decades that can tell you exactly where the water comes from and where it goes.
’They should just listen to what we say instead of spending thousands on expensive reports by experts in the UK.’
She added: ’People who haven’t been in this position can’t understand.
’People’s homes are at risk, it’s not just damage to a caravan or something like that. It’s your everything you stand to lose. I face losing everything I’ve worked for over years of hard work. It’s an ongoing big worry for people.’
Jill has also struggled to get affordable home insurance since the floods, saying: ’We can’t even get proper home insurance.
’Up until the floods, I paid £220 per year on a two bedroom cottage. Now it’s £1,300 per year.
’And it’s not comprehensive insurance, just the basics like fire and theft - let alone flood insurance.
Asked if she thinks the government should offer a scheme to enable residents access to affordable insurance, she said: ’I think they have to.
’I know of one company that has said they won’t take on any new customers from Ramsey unless the government does something.’
Garff MHK Martyn Perkins says he and fellow constituency MHK Daphne Caine are ’still fighting’ for residents’ access to proper home and flood insurance.
He said: ’One issue that has arisen has been people with IM4 postcodes seeing their premiums increase because their database says they are a flood risk, or being asked if they are within 600m of a watercourse - which could be said for most places on the Isle of Man.’
In terms of the ongoing flood defence projects, he said: ’I think Laxey is as prepared as it can be at this point in time.
’Obviously the new flood defences are an ongoing work in progress - but I feel like they are moving forward’.
Recent flash flooding in August further highlighted the need for better flood defences, with water flooding garages and lapping against front doors.
Mr Perkins points out that flooding was largely the result of the Gretch Veg culvert still being repaired, and unlike last October the main river remained under control.
Nonetheless, it caused alarm among residents about Laxey’s current level of preparedness for sudden floods.
Andrew Smith, former Laxey commissioner and chairman of the recently-formed Garff Flood Action Committee, said: ’We were very vulnerable during August, people don’t realise how touch and go it was just because nothing came of it.
’We had warned the government about that weather beforehand, and it ended up washing DoI pipeworks from the repairs out into the bay.
’The DoI works yard was closed, and there were no sandbags. I had to call up the Civil Defence Corps and to the credit of their emergency planning co-ordinator Jane Kelly, they were brought out very quickly.’
Mr Smith is still being affected by last year’s flooding.
He said: ’It’s a year on and many are still not living a normal life.
’We ourselves still don’t have any furniture back in the house, it’s been in storage since last October.’
Asked if he felt the government had been doing enough since October, he said: ’No one could say they haven’t done anything.
Some residents may say that some of the defences are overkill, and others would say that certain defences still need work.
’The initial inertia from the government after the incident was good, but then of course Covid-19 happened and obviously displaced everything.’
Mr Smith said that the Flood Action Committee’s website is intended to function as an ongoing report of all flood defence works in Laxey, which is then fed through to residents.
They remain in ’continual dialogue’ with government ministers, he said.