Book Review by Steve Matthews of Bookends.
The Carlisle Floods 2015 with Recollections from 2005 by David Ramshaw. £5 (all proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Cumbrian Community Foundation Flood Relief Fund. )
Ten years after the floods of 2005, Carlisle suffered a second, more awful inundation. Flood defences were in place. The houses were secure and no matter how heavy the rains and how swollen the rivers, the water would be channelled safely past the city.
It was not to be. The turbulent waters surged over the defences and wrought their damage.
The physical damage was worse than 2005. The floods extended further through the city. But the psychological damage was yet worse. People who had felt themselves secure in renovated houses, found themselves uprooted. Others, unable to afford the increased insurance were faced with a financial tragedy.
The all too familiar pictures tell only half the story.
The Caldew is like a weir in spate as it empties over the wall besides the Old Brewery. The railway line lies beneath a lake.
The Jovial Sailor has water lapping at its doors. McVities looks more like a harbour facility than the entrance to a vital factory. The door of The Joiners' Arms is wide open letting the waters flow as they will.
Car roofs in the Town Dyke car park appeared like the conning towers of mini-submarines.
The Devonshire Walk Car Park offers parking for 50p a day. There are no takers. Neither are there adventurous children in Bitts Park and no-one is seen walking in Corporation Road. Here the water reaches to the window lintels.
In some places, like Caldewgate, where the flood defences offered some containment, the water levels were lower, but in others, around the Civic Centre and in Warwick Road, the waters rose threateningly higher.
The Civic Centre looks like the bridge on a sinking ship. Debenham's, with its steel stanchions, looks like the base of a vast oil-rig and the white garage on Hardwicke Circus might be a cruise liner.
The new schools, beacons for the future, the new buildings at Trinity, the magnificent Carlisle College, the Central Academy, promises of the city's future, all flooded, closed.
Broad Street as lovely as a river between tree-lined banks until you see the sunken cars and the houses and a man wading waist-deep through the waters.
Brunton Crescent, Greystone Road, River Street, Brunton Park itself and Warwick Road, the list is a litany of individual tragedies, people whose lives have been thrown apart by the unstoppable water.
The International Rescue Corps prepare themselves - helmets, life jackets, a large inflatable - in the shadow of Dixon's Chimney. At 2.00 pm a man in an orange luminous jacket splashes his way along Caldewgate. In Melbourne Street a lady in a red cagoule and a tea-cosy hat like a Christmas pudding stands at a tea-trolley cheerfully preparing a cup of tea for a volunteer.
The waters came and they overwhelmed the city. For a short time it was too, too awful to believe. The emergency services came, volunteers came, people came from far and wide. They brought help and food and sympathy and kindness. Church groups came, parties came from mosques and groups of Sikhs came.
It was awful but the city survived and that lady stood in the middle of Melbourne Street helping someone to a warm brew.
David Ramshaw has become the unofficial chronicler of the floods. Let's hope that in years to come people will look back on these books as a reminder of something that must never happen again.