Cockermouth Flood 2009
On 19th November, 2009 the centre of the town of Cockermouth was submerged under six to eight feet of flood water when the rivers Derwent and Cocker burst their banks. Residents were forced to flee their properties and many people had to be rescued by search and rescue and mountain rescue teams.
Tragically, downriver in Workington, a road bridge collapsed sweeping PC Bill Barker to his death.
What I Saw and Photographed
I was in the town centre during the afternoon and saw water brimming over the river bank onto the car park of the Trout Hotel. I had my camera with me and took several shots and then drove home. Although the water was high, I’d seen this level of river water before.
Later that evening, I decided to head back to Cockermouth with my camera. I’d visualised taking a couple of photos looking across the river towards the town. I thought that the water and the town lights would make interesting images. It was pouring with rain and so I wrapped my compact camera and flash in a plastic bag to protect them from the elements.
I was shocked by what I saw when I arrived in the town. The river level had risen much further and a raging torrent of water was now coursing down Main Street. The scene was like something from a disaster movie. A rescue helicopter circled above the town’s roof tops; police and rescue services cordoned off streets.
From behind the police barrier, I grabbed as many shots as I could that night. I went back the over the following days to photograph the aftermath and the start of the clean-up operation.
As a photographer, I felt that it was important to document these events, whilst being as unobtrusive as possible.
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