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Cumbrian accounting firms defiant in face of floods

STORM Desmond’s devastating impact on North West England – and Cumbria in particular – has wrought destruction on homes and businesses throughout the region.

Allied to the tempest, record levels of rainfall left thousands of homes without power in Lancaster and Cumbria.

In Cockermouth, one of the worst affected areas with over 400 homes ravaged by the floods, Jordan Cooper, an associate partner at Tattersall Bailey Chartered Accountants, said a number of rooms in the office – which backs onto the river, are under a couple of feet of water.

“Fortunately we managed to put the PCs and client records above the water levels, but we’ve had to take the carpets up and the cupboards out of the kitchen area as the water, which is very dirty, leaves a mark,” says Cooper.

“While the office has been affected, it could have been much worse. It’s still a severe problem and operationally there are a few issues because our internet is down, it’s causing problems as it’s the VAT filing deadline today – so were going to get someone to log on remotely and make the submissions that way.”

High street woe

Cooper said a number of the firm’s High Street-based clients were under several feet of water and businesses such as pubs and restaurants that rely on passing footfall had been worst affected. They’d suffered a double blow as flood relief drains placed under the street last year meant the road was shut for long periods, meaning they lost trade then, too.

Some of his staff’s homes had been flooded with many experiencing difficulties getting into the office due to road closures, especially parts of the A66.
Fairing somewhat better is Lamont Pridmore, whose eight Cumbrian offices stretching from Barrow to Carlisle to Kendal, Keswick and Workington, managed to avoid any damage from the near Biblical deluge.

Disaster recovery

Managing partner, Graham Lamont, said it had been “fairly devastating” with “only one road into Carlisle passable” and several employees “coping the best they can” after being flooded at home.

“All our offices are fairly high up so we’re okay. We’re lucky we’re in the cloud and have an exchange file server with people working from home – some of the advantages of modern technology. After the floods ten years ago, we produced a disaster recovery plan for our clients which the chamber of commerce got out within 24 hours.

“Were going through our client lists and giving them a ring to see if there’s s anything we can do. The Cumbrian psyche is very self-reliant and there’s and a good community spirit – the few leisure centres not under water are open for people affected.”

Kendal problems

A partner at a Kirkby Stephen firm said that while their offices had suffered some water ingress and minor damage, he knew of several clients that had been flooded out of their homes.

He said: “We have been fortunate as the river is quite a bit below the town, but having said that it has suffered quiet a bit with some houses flooded out. We’ll get by. Some of our clients have had houses flooded and sadly it’s going to take quiet a bit of sorting out for them.”

“It’s more Kendal and Cockermouth that have had the really bad problems – although it’s been like a river running down the main street at times on Saturday. No-one can remember it ever being this bad. A lot of people are much worse off than us.”

HMRC said it is providing “dedicated support” for those affected by Storm Desmond. Call 0800 9047900  to speak to advisors on payment options.

Picture credit: Gavin Lynn (Flickr)

 

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