'We Can't Deal With It Anymore': Residents Hit By Storm Babet Flooding Slam Therese Coffey During Visit

"There was no real reason for her to be here, just to show her face that she’s been," one resident claimed.
Resident Lucy Rose speaking to Therese Coffey
Resident Lucy Rose speaking to Therese Coffey
Sky News

Therese Coffey didn’t get exactly get a warm reception when she visited the Retford residents whose homes were flooded by Storm Babet on Monday.

The Environment Agency has estimated around 1,250 properties in England were impacted last week, although a further 30,000 were allegedly protected from any flood damage.

At least four people have died since Babet reached the UK.

The environment secretary went to see affected residents in Retford, a market town in Nottinghamshire, on Monday, after she was invited by Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith.

But, Coffey’s encounters with the local population didn’t seem to go down very well – as Sky News caught on camera.

When Coffey approached her for a chat, local Lucy Rose, told the cabinet minister: “If you’re asking me what I think, please don’t...”

The minister acknowledged that it is “very upsetting,” adding that she has “personal experience” of this kind of disaster.

Rose replied, “I don’t know what day it is,” before explaining how she had struggled to find any accommodation when her home was flooded.

″It’s not a home anymore, it’s just a shell of water...” the resident explained.

She also noted that she is going to have to “fork out” and re-do her home, and that she wants it all to be on the government, adding: “We can’t deal with it anymore.”

Another resident chimed in, saying: “To be honest, we don’t want to be here anymore.”

Rose also said once her home was flooded, she didn’t know what to do.

She said: “I sat for an hour and a half in the pub car park, in the dark, because we didn’t know where to go.”

Rose continued: “Because everybody we contacted didn’t help, nobody replied, I phoned the police, they couldn’t do anything, I phoned the fire brigade, they couldn’t do anything.

“They came, 10 minutes later – the police moved my car, reversed it into next door neighbour’s car, and left that, then told us they could get us out.”

She added she had to get her 17-year-old daughter of the house “in her bare feet”.

Another person said that it flooded “exactly the same as it before” and “we were just left again”.

The neighbour continued: “This is again this has happened... we were just left to our own devices.”

To that, Coffey just said: “I’ve come today, Brendan invited me to come up, understanding the impact, particularly because of the timeliness of the warnings.”

The Environment Agency has predicted that some places could remain flooded until Wednesday, especially as more rain is on its way.

Rose later seemed sceptical about the minister’s visit, telling Sky News in a separate clip: “Media, that’s all it was. There was no real reason for her to be here, just to show her face that she’s been. That’s it really.”

She said the whole of the street is struggling, but that people have been pulling together, even after not receiving a lot of help.

When questioned by journalists, Coffey explained that the UK has invested £2.6 million in flood defences across the UK between 2015 and 2021 and is looking to spend £5.2 million more over a six-year time period.

“I’m conscious that doesn’t matter to them,” Coffey said, referring to the disgruntled residents she was visiting, but claimed she felt it was still important to see people whose lives have been affected.

“I’m conscious of that with my own constituency, and of course the people who have lost their lives,” Coffey added, saying she was looking for practical responses to the flooding.

Asked by Sky News why it had taken her so long to come up and visit, Coffey said she had been meeting people, and that it was important politicians don’t get caught up in “operational responses”.


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