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Somerset Levels farmers speak of floods horror

Desperate farmers working day and night to move livestock and feed from the flooded Somerset Levels have described the area as a ‘war zone’.

Olivia   Midgley

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Olivia   Midgley
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Dozens of farmers have joined forces to evacuate their animals as flood water continues to rise.

 

Levels farmers Gavin Sadler and James Winslade moved 550 cattle to another farm yesterday (Thursday) along with as much bedding and feed as they could manage.

 

Today (Friday) they are moving a further 120 cows from two more farms and a horse which has already been moved from one flooded farm, only to be stranded again.

 

Mr Sadler said: “Our farms have gone, our villages have gone, the church has gone.

 

“And why? Last year Lord Chris Smith came here and said something would be done within six months, but nothing has happened. This is what happens when you take no action.

 

“We have been banging on about dredging the rivers and no, it might not have stopped this from happening, but the water would have been able to get away a lot quicker.

 

“Everyone is suffering from the neglect of the Environment Agency but sadly they are only doing what Government policy has stipulated.

 

“They need to get a grip and sort this out.”

 

Mr Sadler, who was speaking to Farmers Guardian while he was driving to rescue more cattle, said rain was persistent and flood water was continuing to creep up.

 

“I’m driving a big New Holland tractor and the water is sloshing around the engine. It’s about 1.5m high,” he said.

 

“It’s literally like driving through the sea, it’s unbelievable.

 

“We’ve got fleets of tractors and trailers all working to get the cows out, with absolutely no help from the military.

 

“The police are offering escorts where they can, but we’re completely on our own here.

 

“This is a state of emergency and the army should have been brought in weeks ago.”

 

Last month the Government said military vehicles were on standby, but personnel were later stood down.

 

“We could have used their help to get sandbags out. It’s like a war zone, there’s just things floating around in the water,” added Mr Sadler.

 

“We’ve lost everything. Our homes are worthless, our farms are worthless. People have lost farms which they’ve taken years and years to build up. It’s all gone.”

 

Mr Sadler and his family were evacuated from their home in Moorland two days ago and have taken shelter in another farm’s holiday cottage.

 

Royal Marines have been deployed to the area this morning to assist with the evacuation operation.

 


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Can you help?

Farming charities are doing all they can to help families devastated by flooding.

 

Philippa Spackman of RABI said: “As a welfare charity we know only too well how bad this is for farmers and their families.

 

Unfortunately, we cannot help with business bills, but we can help with domestic expenses to help families get through these difficult times.

 

“We can also point people in the direction of other help available. Our helpline number is 0300 303 7373.”

  • Throughout February Farmers Guardian staff are raising money for RABI and RSABI with a ‘booze-free’ challenge. Much of this cash will go to helping stricken farming families in need. Read more about the challenge and sponsor us here
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