Wetherby couple speak of heartbreak after floods devastate home

Barry and Judith Unwin
Barry and Judith Unwin

An elderly couple have spoken of their horror and heartbreak after their riverside flat in Wetherby was tormented by the unprecedented Boxing Day floods.

Barry and Judith Unwin, 78 and 75 hadn’t even finished unpacking their lifelong belongings into their ‘beautiful’ new flat on West Gate.

The couple had only just moved from their family home of nearly 50 years in Bardsey, after their daughter Louise had persuaded them to relocate and downsize.

Mr Unwin said: “There was a lot of mess. Some of the neighbours had moved one or two things away from the water but a lot of things did get destroyed including some diaries written in the 1800s by a far relative - things like that were irreplaceable.

“We have lost furniture, a three-piece suite, dining chairs, the kitchen is totally destroyed - you name it it’s gone.”

The couple had been away in Norwich as part of a Christmas family tradition when the floods hit on Boxing Day, but it was their daughter Louise who received the dreaded call.

Mrs Corner said: “On the Monday morning I got a text from the management company and as soon as I got the text I just knew. I rang and I said it has flooded hasn’t it and she said yes. I immediately got in the car and drove to the apartment.

“It was just awful, everything you see on TV it was like that, it was chaos, chairs upside down, I can’t explain it, it was like a war zone.

“I burst into tears, because I persuaded them to move I have waves of guilt even now because it was down to me that they moved. They were heartbroken and devastated.

Louise, who owns her own events management business, has taken charge of sorting everything out for her parents, working her business hours around the flood nightmare.

But as the person who helped convince her parents to leave their family home, Louise explains just how much harder that made things for Barry and Judith.

She said: “They are now staying in rented accommodation and it might be nice and warm but it’s not their home.

“It was hard for Mum and Dad anyway, every cupboard they opened and every draw they opened there was something to talk about and reminisce, that itself was a long process and it was hard for them”

After the traumatic events, Barry and Judith stayed with Louise and her family in York before spending time in London with Barry’s brother.

But now the couple are in rented accommodation at Castle Keep while they wait for two dehumidifiers to dry out their apartment so that work can begin.

Louise said: “It needs knew floors and the electrics and heating all needs redoing. It needs redecorating and re-carpeting before they can move back in and it’s really rubbish, there is nothing else to say.”

But one saving grace for Louise and her parents has been the accommodating landlord company and some neighbours who helped to salvage some things from the flood.

Having left the keys in the apartment building, the neighbours were able to get into the Unwin’s flat and move things above the water level.

Mrs Corner said: “They worked until the water was at their knees, the residents have been amazing, everybody has been lovely but it’s still very traumatic.”