Abandonments and evacuations as floods continue to hit

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  • Rural communities in the north of England are facing the aftermath of the severe floods that hit the UK this week.

    This afternoon (Monday, 28 December) there were still nine severe flood warnings — the highest level on the Environment Agency’s scale — as well as 123 warnings and alerts in place for England and Wales.

    Earlier this month, H&H reported on the problems horse owners were facing following Storm Desmond (news, 10 December 2015).

    Severe flooding is still affecting many people, particularly in the north of England and Wales.

    Matt and Amanda Millin’s yard near Bolton (pictured, top) was one badly hit by the rising water.

    “At about 9.30am on Boxing Day morning we had about three or four inches of water. By 10.15am, we were under 5ft of it,” Matt told H&H.

    “It was scary — we were leading horses out and the under current was pulling you back.”

    Five horses were safely rescued from fields and stables and were moved to another yard while the clean-up took place.

    matt millin yard2Amanda broke her foot during the evacuation when a spooked horse stood on her.

    Their arena surface has been washed away as have many of their rugs and other equipment.

    Matt, a FEI showjumping judge, added that he has been “overwhelmed” by the amount of help and support people have given them.

    He said that individuals and businesses have donated hay, bedding feed and rugs to replace those ruined.

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    The floodwater has subsided and all the stables have now been disinfected. The horses are set to return later today (Monday, 28 December).

    “I have had every emotion go through my body in the past 24 hours,” he said.

    Matt and Amanda also helped with the evacuation of Clare Elding’s neighbouring yard, which is home to 10 horses.

    “The water was coming as quickly as you could get things done,” said Clare.

    “By about 10am the water was waist deep on me and I am 5’11”.”

    Friends have taken her horses in until the water subsides.

    “People have just been so generous,” she added.

    Help has been pledged by charities and the government for flood-struck rural communities.

    The Prince’s Countryside Fund is releasing £40,000 of its funds to help support communities and businesses affected by the flooding.

    Charity Forage Aid, which sources forage and bedding for farms whose own supply has been destroyed or made inaccessible by severe weather, is helping those in need.

    Chancellor George Osborne has pledged more than £60m to help households and businesses.

    Grants of up to £20,000 are available to farmers to restore damaged agricultural land.


    A number of high-profile racing fixtures have been affected by the widespread flooding.

    The Welsh Grand National, due to be held on Sunday (27 December), was postponed due to waterlogged ground at Chepstow racecourse.

    The full race card for the event has been rescheduled for Saturday, 9 January.

    The original entries for the Welsh National, which were published in the racing calendar on 26 November, will still stand.

    This change of date means that Chepstow’s 8 January fixture has been cancelled and Doncaster’s 9 January meet has now been moved to 8 January.

    Other fixtures in the racing calendar were also abandoned.

    Wetherby’s annual Boxing Day meeting was cancelled due to flooding on the course.

    On 26 December 55mm of rain had fallen on the track in 24 hours. Standing water could be seen surrounding the fences.

    Bangor-on-Dee’s fixture on 22 December was also cancelled due to flooding.

    Racing at Limerick was cancelled on Boxing Day, but was able to go ahead on 27 December, today (Monday, 28 December) and is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, 29 Deceber).

    York racecourse, which does not have any fixtures until May, is also under water.

    Stay safe

    The RSPCA has issued the following advice for horse owners:

    Plan your escape route

    • Ensure you can be contacted in an emergency: keep phone numbers of people who can help move your animals
    • Ensure any extra gates you need for emergency access are fitted and attach your details to field gates
    • Act early if there is a flood warning
    • Livestock and horses will need to be moved to high ground early
    • Make sure you have emergency feed and fresh water supplies
    • If flooding strikes and you have not already moved your horses, then take them to high ground if the escape route is accessible
    • Read the list in full here

    Useful numbers and websites

    Floodline 08459881188
    RSPCA 0300 1234999

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