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Repairs, insurance and good publicity: How Storm Christoph affected flood-affected communities one year later

JClare Niven was busy moving stock at her Cheshire clothing store last year.

It was not for customers; his shop was closed due to the confinement. It was because of the water flowing in his store.

She was one of many people affected by flooding during Storm Christoph, which blanketed hundreds of homes in water and forced thousands to evacuate a year ago. The northern regions and Wales were particularly affected by the deluge of January 18 and 20.

In the town of Northwich, Cheshire, more than 60 properties were flooded – most of these businesses like Ms Niven’s, as well as homes, a school and a residential complex.

White Ribbon Shop During Floods


With the town center submerged, Ms Niven was unable to drive to save thousands of pounds of stock at White Ribbon Boutique, a family business now covered in nine inches of water. All she could do was put it up as high as she could, hoping it would survive the seeping water.

“We just have to move things around and then leave, which was a little heartbreaking,” she says The Independent.

But that was only the beginning of the story. After the flood, there were the repairs, the insurance claims, the rejection of ruined stock – which she said was 70% of what was in the store at the time – and the fear that it could happen again.

The head of the Environment Agency said The Independent Storm Christoph – which occurred between January 18 and 20 – was the harbinger of worsening “climate shocks” for the country. And towards the end of last year, she warned that the climate crisis – which is bringing more rainfall and rising sea levels – was increasing the risk of flooding in the UK.

When she sees heavy rain and storms predicted, “we start to worry about the stock and the shop,” Ms Niven says.

A short walk along the river is Brent Nile’s barber and bar. Both of these were covered in water about three feet high when Storm Christoph hit, he says. The Independent.

He had no insurance, which he felt was too expensive due to his position. It took around £13,000 and ‘working around the clock’ to complete all the repairs, says Mr Nile.

Burdett’s barber shop in the Cheshire town of Northwich


Even so, he’s not one to dwell on the negatives. “For every tear shed, it’s not going to rebuild my businesses.”

An odd perk was that its stores were projected into the public eye. He says The Independent“If anything, we got more flood publicity than anything else.”

While Ms Niven had insurance, this has now increased after the floods in January. “Obviously with lower footfall it’s just a question of whether the rising costs to keep the store open is financially viable or not.”

Other freestanding stores are priced out of favor due to the cost of flood insurance, which is altering the town of Northwich and reducing its appeal to shoppers, she says.

In Wales, other communities have seen their daily lives affected by the lasting impacts of Storm Christoph.

At Wrexham a main road collapsed during the heavy storm, removing a key route between a number of villages. A year later, it’s still not settled, says Sonia Benbow-Jones, a Cefn adviser. The Independent.

While it’s possible to detour to a bypass or another village, options are limited for those who don’t drive, she says. “If you don’t have a car, you rely on public transport. There is no more public transport since the collapse of the road.

They are “isolating” communities that are usually intertwined, the adviser adds.

In Northwich, the community came together to help each other after the floods, Mr Nile said the independent, with neighbors lending tools and paint to help with repairs.

“You have to do it, don’t you, at times like this. If we weren’t already going through enough, we’re also going through a lot worse.