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It's just a case of pulling together, say family hit by Cumbrian floods

A family will gather together around a roaring log fire on Christmas Day thinking of the home left ruined in the Cumbrian floods.

Campbell and Julie Hannah's living room, where their Christmas tree once stood, is now a muddy hole in the floor covered by a tangled web of wires and pipes.

No decorations hang from the walls, no festive wreath on the door - just a poster in the front window saying, "Ho Bloody Ho".

They are just one family among hundreds left homeless and living in temporary accommodation after Storm Desmond hit on December 5.

Many will wake up on Christmas Day to the four walls of a Travelodge room or a B&B.

But Julie, 33, and 21 weeks pregnant, her husband Campbell, 48, their two daughters, Jasmine, aged three, and Darrelle, 24, - along with their unborn baby girl, and Tess their Collie dog, will get some respite from the "heartbreaking" stress and mess of the floods - and they will at least be together.

The Hannahs will have their Christmas dinner in a bungalow in the Cumbrian countryside outside Carlisle, as work goes on restoring their large Victorian home in Warwick Road in the city, one of the areas hit worst by the floods.

There is no place like home but the temporary accommodation, provided by Mrs Hannah's employer Pirelli, will at least be warm and dry.

Mr Hannah said: "It's five miles out of town, it's a comfortable bungalow, we will be all right, we will have a decent Christmas, four bedrooms, there's enough room for my mum and my two daughters.

"We are happy. There are people down the road who are much worse off than us - still living in hotels, haven't even been found accommodation.

"It will be a reasonable Christmas. It's just a case of pulling together."

The taxi driver added: "I've got to work on Christmas morning. Most of my work on Christmas morning is taking kids' presents from grandparents' houses to kids' houses, taking grandparents from nursing homes to family homes.

"At 1pm in afternoon the work dries up because everyone is where they want to be. Mission accomplished. I can go home and sit down and have my dinner and open my presents after."

Meanwhile, Mr Hannah is working day and night to get their home habitable again - the baby is due in April.

The eight inches of sewage-contaminated water that came "gushing" through the doors and floors has left the downstairs in ruins.

The family took as much as they could upstairs in the house, but tables and other furniture had to be sacrificed.

As Christmas Day arrives, entire floors in rooms downstairs are still being pulled up.

Loss adjusters have visited and industrial dryers whirr continuously as Mr Campbell continues pulling up and re-laying the entire downstairs floorboards.

Simply ordering and delivery of supplies is a task - with no internet connection and an unreliable phone signal.

Mr Hannah has had one cheque from his insurer, though, as he gets on with his renovation.

"I think they're happy for me to just get on with it, it's one less thing for them to do," he said.

"I like doing stuff. I can make it better, it's going to be better than it was before.

"I don't want anyone else to do it, a load of strangers coming in. It's my castle."

Away from his castle for Christmas, Mr Hannah has at least promised himself some cheer and warmth at the family's temporary home.

He added: "It's got a log fire in it and there's a pile of logs in the garage that the last tenant left, so I'm going to light the fire - even though it's got central heating. We are going to have a log fire."


From Belfast Telegraph