10:05am Friday 4th January 2013
By Press reporter
A ELDERLY couple who have spent weeks marooned on their smallholding are appealing for help after raging floodwaters swept through their home.
Brian and Violet Coatsworth, have been stranded five times since September in their isolated farmhouse near Thirsk, which backs on to the River Swale and Crakehill Beck.
The couple, who are aged 79 and 77 and suffer ill health, said they have lived upstairs for weeks during the region’s wettest year on record after water rose several metres and surged over a flood defence wall they had built in October.
Mrs Coatsworth said: “We heard the River Swale rumbling, Brian was baling out water and then it came over the top of the wall like a tidal wave.
“Brian was clinging to a doorframe and I got swept from one end of the living room to the other. Another time Brian was crushed when the flood wall collapsed.”
She said surges of water, up to three feet deep, had destroyed many of their possessions and had been sufficiently powerful to sweep away their fridge.
Mrs Coatsworth said: “The water is like a yo-yo, it can be up and down in no time. “Our lives have been shattered, we can’t sell the house as it is on a floodplain that looks like Loch Lomond and the only insurance quote we were able to get was £5,000.
“We used to have chocolate box photographers come to take pictures of our house and garden, now it is starting to look like a prison to us.”
She said they are appealing for a reduction in their council tax after having spent thousands of pounds on pumps, dehumidifiers, flood defences and cleaning.
The retired pig farmers, who have lived in the house since 1961, claimed the problem had been exacerbated by the installation of floodgates in York, which when in operation caused water to back up the rivers Ouse and Swale.
Until yesterday, when the Coatsworths were able to leave their home for the first time since before Christmas, the River Foss Barrier had been down for 13 days to protect thousands of homes in York.
Hambleton District Council leader councillor Neville Huxtable said he had great sympathy with the couple and was urging the Environment Agency to assess their situation and had appealed to the district valuer to review their council tax levy.
He said: “They are certainly an isolated case and are at the top of the list if there is anything that we can do.”
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said it had launched a joint investigation with North Yorkshire County Council into the cause of the flooding.
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