Anxious wait for flood-threatened Rothbury residents

Police close the road at Armstrong Cottages as the River Coquet bursts its banks.
Police close the road at Armstrong Cottages as the River Coquet bursts its banks.
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Residents in Rothbury could only watch, wait and hope that their homes wouldn’t be inundated by floodwater, after the raging River Coquet burst its banks this morning.

By that time, however, water was already starting to pool on the road and there was little that could be done to halt it. Northumbria Police closed the road soon after, cutting off the centre of Rothbury from the B6341 main route to Alnwick.

Fire Brigade and council workers at The Maltings in Rothbury.

Fire Brigade and council workers at The Maltings in Rothbury.

Within 20 minutes the first barrier had been breached, with floodwater quickly causing the pool to surge almost to the height of the two-foot-high wall which surrounds Armstrong Cottages.

Volunteers from the community, including members of the WRVS, had already helped to fit secondary flood defences to plug gateways, while sandbags were piled at the doors of each home. But when the water began to spring through holes in the wall, it was time to evacuate the residents to the safety of the Jubilee Hall as a precaution.

Across at The Maltings – which also stands near to the river bank – crews from Northumbria Fire and Rescue Service were in attendance, helping to get elderly people clear of their homes as the waters rose. They too sought shelter at the Jubilee Hall, where warming cups of tea and biscuits were waiting.

Taking timings from the 7am floodwater peak upstream at Alwinton, it was estimated that the river levels at Rothbury would start to abate at around noon.

Apart from garages at The Maltings, no homes in the village were affected – but, according to those co-ordinating the emergency response, it was a close call.

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