Mal Nicholson, his wife Val and their three-year old granddaughter, Chloe, were forced to move on to Spider T, the last remaining Humber Super Sloop and a sail-powered cargo vessel from 1926 restored in part by Mal, when they were flooded out last December.
But they did not expect to remain homeless over a year after the deluge that saw the River Trent burst its banks to swamp their home and business, Trentside Classic and Sportscars at Burringham.
Two cars damaged by the water were historic Ferraris, housed in a trailer together, with a combined value of £1.2 million. One Ferrari was the a replica of a grand prix car. Others included a Ferrari Dino, an original ‘Italian Job’ car, a restored Fiat Dino and several rare Alfa Romeos, one of which once belonged to actress Sophia Loren.
The family had to endure another Christmas on board Spider T at Keadby without a direct water and electricity supply, or sewage disposal, Mr Nicholson said the cost of diesel for powering generators is over £1000 a month, adding: “It’s really hard work, living out of bags and cardboard boxes. We’ve had so many completion dates for work on the house, we did hope to be in for Christmas.”
The 58-year old has now given up hope of resurrecting what was his profitable business, and is convinced the whole sorry saga might have been avoidable.
He said: “The last time the Trent flooded was in 1953 and the village became an island. But it didn’t go under. This time a four foot wall of water smashed its way through. It even tore up the foundations of our home. I still want to know why lorry loads of sandbags appeared to be directed to a non-residential area instead of being used to protect us. Who took that decision?”
Morgan Wray, Flood Risk Management Leader at the Environment Agency said: “The tidal surge of December 2013 and accompanying high water levels caused some flood defences at Burringham and other locations to overtop. People and properties are always a priority during flooding and at no point were decisions made or plans put in place to prioritise uninhabited building land. We would encourage people to sign up for our free flood warning scheme.”