COCKERMOUTH businesses were left to deal with the devastation of the 2009 floods for more than six months before they were able to get back on their feet.

Jonty Chippendale, who owns The Toy Shop on Main Street, remembers a “raging torrent” of water flowing outside his shop.

“It had been raining for two weeks and the ground was saturated. On the night of the 18th it was raining really heavily, by the morning of the 19th it was raining so hard that I went out to look at the river and I was soaked, the river was coming up and coming up.”

Jonty started moving all his stock but had to give up by mid-afternoon as it was getting harder and harder to cross the road and get to high ground.

He said: “Through the night I could see helicopters going to rescue people and the next day it was just frustration.

“The town was cordoned off and my shop was completely flooded.”

Jonty’s shop reopened in a temporary space, shared by other businesses, but it was about seven months before he could move back into The Toy Shop.

He said: “We created a sort of little shopping mall, it wasn’t for financial reasons, it was for the customer service, this happened just before Christmas.”

But Jonty doesn’t feel like his business is safe. He said the flood defences that were built in the town were great, but the data used to build them has already been superceded by climate change, as the 2015 floods have already proven.

“To expect Cockermouth not to be flooded again would be stupid.

“When I see that another area has been flooded, my heart goes out to them, but I feel a huge relief it’s not me.”

Jonty believes plans should be made nationally and locally to make properties more resilient against flooding.

He said: “There is a place in Germany where people live on a flood plain on the Rhine, it’s just about making your building resilient.”

He said after adapting his building, The Toy Shop reopened in six days after Storm Desmond left the town devastated once again.

Jonty said many promises were made to Cockermouth following both floods, but very few were kept.

“The problem is that as soon as the media attention has gone, the pressure on the authorities to follow through on their promises goes.

“Climate change has an effect on our lives and we need to prepare nationally and locally, not doing so is sheer stupidity.”

Sue Eccles, managing director at The Trout hotel on the town’s Crown Street, also said she would not have expected to be standing in the hall with her wellies on, watching once again the building being destroyed by flood water.

She said: “In 2009 they told us it was a one in 100 years event.

“I can’t help but feel nervous when it rains a lot.”

“We now have sensors on the river bank and we get notified if it reaches a certain point and if we need to put our flood defences up.

“We just have to hope that if that happens they will work well.”

On the day Cockermouth was flooded, Sue, around ten customers and some members of staff were left stranded on the higher floors of the hotel.

“I couldn’t believe the amount of water coming down the river and its force.

“I was watching out of the window and you could see from One Stop, which used to be a newsagents, boxes of Quality Street and Christmas presents floating down the road, it was unbelievable.”

It took The Trout around seven months to re-fit the ground floor. In the meantime they moved into temporary premises to do all the admin work, such as notifying customers of cancellations.

Sue said: “It’s strange, I was just tidying the reception a few weeks ago and I found lots of emails from 2009.

“They were from customers saying how extremely sorry they were for us. The support from customers and previous guests was unbelievable.”

She added The Trout was a huge part of the town and the business decided to commit to Cockermouth and continue to operate, despite also being affected by the floods in 2015.

The Trout invested £350,000 in flood defences and it is hoping that if floods were to hit the town again, the business would be shut for a shorter time or just partly shut.