Local community and partners work flat out to ensure Coverack is open for business

Just six days after devastating flash floods swept through Coverack, the main road will be re- opened to traffic today after the local community and partners worked flat out to ensure that the village is open for business in time for the peak summer season.

Four inches of rain (100mm) fell in under three hours on Tuesday, 18 July, causing unprecedented damage to homes, businesses and roads in the village. One of the most significant areas of damage was to the main road into the village – the B3294 – forcing it to be closed to traffic.

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The “road closed” signs will be removed and the road re opened under traffic lights at 2pm today (Monday 24 July) ensuring the village can remain open for business.

Councillor Geoff Brown, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, paid tribute to the efforts of everyone who has been involved in the clean up.

“This has been a real partnership between the Council, the Environment Agency and South West Water working with voluntary organisations and the local community to get the village back on its feet as quickly as possible“ said Councillor Brown.

“The emergency services have rightly been praised for their fantastic response on the night of the floods, and since then all agencies have worked incredibly hard to support the local community.

“I would particularly like to pay tribute to the CORMAC teams who have worked so hard to repair the damage to the road and ensure that it can be re opened today, significantly earlier than originally anticipated, to members of our Localism team who have been at the Paris Hotel every day to help people affected by the devastating floods.  Most importantly, I’d like to pay tribute to the local community who have faced a very difficult week and rallied round to support each other and showed what the spirit of the village reflects”.

Julian Rand, MBE, the Cornwall Councillor for St Keverne and Meneage, said “As the Local Member, I have been astonished and humbled by the massive efforts of Cornwall Council and Cormac in restoring a vital access road to the beautiful seaside village of Coverack so soon after the disaster.  Everyone involved has worked together with the residents and local businesses on delivering a well co-ordinated plan to restore services and provide help and assistance to those affected in the village and surrounding areas.

“I was in the village this morning with the Chairman and Coverack  members of St Keverne Parish Council who, together with  a representative of the Cornwall Community Foundation, are establishing an emergency help fund supported by public donations.

“Of course there is still more to do, but with the resilience of the local communities and the outstanding  support of the Cornwall Council team, I'm confident that all short, medium and longer term issues will be satisfactorily resolved.”

A team of 30 people from CORMAC helped to clear tonnes of debris from the road before laying a total of 330 tonnes of base and 200 tonnes of surface layer over the weekend.

Andy James, Head of Highways and Environment at CORMAC, who has been in the village for the past six days, said "Delivering the recovery phase in such a short space of time was a real challenge, but our teams were determined to get the community back on its feet.  The road was seriously damaged and, in some parts, washed away completely. To have it open in such a short space of time is testimony to the spirit and dedication of all the teams involved and the people of Coverack.

“We know that there is still more work to, and we will be continuing to work with partners and the local community until this has been completed.   We said we would stay until we finished the job and we are doing just that. “

Council staff have been at the Paris Hotel every day since the floods, including over the weekend, to provide information and support local residents. 

To date 23 households and two businesses have been helped with a wide range of issues, including finding temporary accommodation for five individuals and families who have been unable to return to their own homes.  The team have also visited 29 properties in the nearby village of St Keverne which were also affected by the flash floods.

There have also been 81 calls to the helpline set up by the Council on Wednesday morning.  

Local crews from St Keverne Community Fire Station have continued to support to residents and help with the removal of water where possible. Fire crews have also offered home fire safety checks to local residents and ensured properties have working smoke alarms in both Coverack and in St Keverne, and tested the fire hydrants in the Coverack area to confirm they are fully working and available for use if required.

Environment Agency Field Services staff have also been in Coverack clearing debris from watercourses to reduce the risk of any further flooding and assisting the  Council with the wider recovery operation.  Waste Officers from the Environment Agency have helped ensure that waste from flooded properties, and flood debris left on the roads and beach is cleared from the village quickly.  They have provided advice and guidance on how the waste can be safely stored while it is tested and appropriate treatment and disposal arranged.

The Environment Agency has also confirmed the pollution problems caused by the flood damage have now been resolved, paving the way for the bathing waters to be re-opened.  

“It’s great to see that Coverack really is open for business again less than a week after such a disastrous flood.” said Ben Johnstone, Area Flood Risk Manager at the Environment Agency.  “There’s lots more to do, but I’d like to give a huge thank you to everyone who has worked so hard over these last few days.”

Business and tourism leaders have welcomed the speedy response from partners which has meant that the village will be open to business ahead of the main summer season.

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership will now be co-ordinating an ‘open for business’ campaign with key business groups such as Visit Cornwall and the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce’. 

Mark Duddridge, Chair of the Partnership, said, “Cornwall Council’s response to this awful event in Coverack has been fantastic, and getting the road into the village open so quickly is hugely important for residents and businesses alike.   It’s now going to be critical that we get the message out there that Coverack is very much “open for business”.

Malcolm Bell, Head of Visit Cornwall, said “Cornwall is an amazing place, it has spectacular scenery, a unique culture and a Cornish spirit flowing through all of our communities.  The flash floods of Coverack and the resultant response shone a spotlight on how Cornwall and Cornish communities pick themselves up and get on with the job.  The combination of community response, the tremendous and impressive action by Cornwall Council and other agencies is truly exemplary.

“Coverack is not only open for business but up and ready to welcome  visitors and tourists throughout the key summer holiday weeks . “

“From a business perspective Cornwall Chamber of Commerce is delighted that Cornwall Council, CORMAC and all concerned have been able to act with such alacrity to get Coverack open for business so quickly after the dramatic event last week“ added Kim Conchie, Chief Executive of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce.

“It's crucial that small businesses are able to maximise income in these important summer weeks  and this swift action has demonstrated that the Council understand the pressures here. Well done to all involved!”.

Story posted 24 July 2017