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Cockermouth Post Article November 2013 Ė Extreme Weather

This week saw extreme stormy weather sweeping across the country and then into Europe, leaving a trail of disruption and damage in its wake. We tend to mutter darkly about global warming and consequent changes to our weather patterns, but extremes of weather have always featured through the decades. The Great Storm of 1900, which caused considerable damage here in Cockermouth, resulted in a commemorative booklet being produced to record the events. January 1839 saw a hurricane-force wind ripping across the county over the Irish Sea, with rain lashing down and considerable damage caused. In Whitehaven a Maryport ship, the John Airey, was torn from her moorings and wrecked upon rocks. Elsewhere trees were uprooted, chimneys toppled and buildings damaged.

Floods, of course, have been a regular and recurring problem in the town, with the River Cocker (one of the fastest rising rivers in the country) and River Derwent bursting their banks with dreadful consequences. The most recent of these floods, as most people will remember, occurred in November 2009 when people had to be rescued from flooded buildings by boat or by helicopter, bridges and buildings were damaged, and many people were forced to spend time in rescue centres. Geese were seen swimming down Main Street, and Prince Charles arrived by helicopter to view events at first hand. Town businesses welcomed strange bed-fellows in the days that followed; do you remember you could buy bread in Limelighting? - and I seem to recall a Pensions consultancy in Market Place living side by side with a lingerie business. How wonderfully people came together, providing whatever help was needed. It is salutary to remember that many people were unable to return to their homes for several months, with all the ensuing inconvenience and misery. Letís hope that the spanking new flood defences will do their job should they be needed.

Gloria Edwards

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