Nurseries in Cumbria hit by the floods are hoping to open in the New Year, after the local community stepped in to help.

Families have rallied around their local nurseries after devastating flooding earlier this month.

Heavy rain over the first weekend in December overflowed new £38 million flood defences in Carlisle, leading to hundreds of evacuations of homes and businesses.

Three nurseries were forced to either close or relocate. Kinder Park Nursery and St Aidan’s Day Nursery, both in Carlisle, were flooded with more than four foot of water.

St Aidan’s is currently operating out of the Happy Mums Foundation at Aglionby Grange, and the third, Crosby Nursery in nearby Crosby-On-Eden, is in temporary accommodation provided by Border Loos.

Joanne Routledge, owner and manager of Kinder Park, has been forced to close completely, with many parents finding provisional places at other providers.

She is doing 'everything in her power' to re-open in the New Year.

Already a local building firm is on-site stripping the damp plaster off the 50-place nursery, and then industrial driers will be fitted for seven to ten days over Christmas to dry the nursery out.

‘We should reopen at the end of January, with everything back to normal,’ she said. ‘This is partly thanks to our optimistic loss adjustor, who is someone from an insurance company who helps restore your property.’

‘We were flooded before in 2005 and learnt a lot from it - this time all our equipment and furniture was moveable. We also had all the young rugby players from the local club who gave us a big helping hand.’

‘Most of the rain was Saturday night and we thought it would hold but it came through the flood defences. We thought we were moving everything as a precaution. The flood defences allowed us a lot more time though, it wasn’t a mad dash. Last time we simply put things up on tables and it wasn’t enough, and this time it was a foot higher.’

Ms Routledge estimates that around ten per cent of her nursery’s children saw their own homes flooded.

‘We have just been getting on with it – what else can you do? At the end of the day it’s my business and I have 20 staff and 147 families dependent on it, we’re a big part of the community.’

Local nurseries and businesses have pulled together to offer places, equipment and time.

‘Our families have been so supportive, some of course have had to take temporary places elsewhere, but will come back to us. Our NDNA nursery network is a real network, which is wonderful. I want to thank everyone for the support we have had - it’s been very touching.’

Gerry Garvey owns Muddy Boots Nursery in Penrith and is the NDNA’s local representative for Penrith and Eden.
‘We were very fortunate not to flood but we have families who have been affected. One family only had enough time to get the children and bags into the car and drive away,’ he said.

‘Anyone who has been affected we have waived their fees for two months. Some will be able to move back quickly, others it may take up to six months. But I don’t think anything more could have been done. No one expected that much water. We even heard of a herd of cows washing away!

‘I know that from speaking to some of the nurseries the response has been amazing, they have received support and equipment, and even accommodation. There has been a fantastic effort of community spirit.’

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