A FAMILY may as well be in the middle of a stormy sea as they are completely surrounded by raging flood water.
Fortunately Pixham House in Pixham Ferry Lane, Callow End is literally a flood fortress, protected by every conceivable type of flood defence which means the house, though girdled by fast-flowing flood water, is bone dry inside. Your Worcester News reporter, James Connell made the journey with a search and rescue boat crew led by Richard Bailey who was out to check on the MacKellar family whose attractive 17th century house, once an inn in the Madresfield estate, looked more like an ocean liner adrift than a palatial country home.
The journey out to them was around a quarter of a mile in water well over three feet deep in places. They have been surrounded by the ever-deepening deluge since last Friday, forcing them to move their chickens and guinea pigs to higher ground. The raging current was enough to pull a man off his fee and sweep him out towards the Severn. At times the boat had to be positioned at a 45 degree angle, into the current, to stop it getting dragged out. The waters have already pulled down trees and torn away the family's gas tank, leaving them without heating. The tank is only stopped from floating off by ratchet straps attached to bolts sunk in a concrete plinth.
Entry to the property is gained through a window and inside is rather unnerving as the flood water is more than two feet higher than the floor of the house, held back from pouring into the house by four specialist flood doors. A toilet pan seal stops the toilet overflowing while a pump with a float switch pushes water out of a sump chamber beneath the floor. The family had been taking their children, Chloe, aged nine, and Ewan, seven to school in Colwall Primary School part of the way by kayak and the rest by car. But the strong winds on Wednesday means their children are now staying with cousins in Welland as the family believed the journey was too dangerous.
When the family bought the house and renovated it they decided it would be sensible to make it was flood proof as possible, hence the extra measures.
Despite the problems posed by flooding Stuart MacKellar insists the only reason they would move is so they could be nearer their children's school. The 45-year-old said: "We really like it here. We would consider moving but not because of the flooding. It is a gorgeous location." The family can get out, when it is calm, but only with great care and using chest waders. The search and rescue team has been performing regular welfare checks to make sure they have everything they need.
He said: "You have got to keep your wits about you because it can be quite dangerous crossing the lane. The wind was so bad on Wednesday I was worried about a power cut which we had for a short period of time." The pumps are electric although they do have a back-up generator. He added: "Today is the first day we haven't been out. On Wednesday it was like being at the seaside. The waves were crashing up against the garage doors. Our home is basically an island now."
His wife Sarah said: "The water last came up in December, 2012 but it wasn't as bad as this. That was my first time experiencing it and you're a little bit more scared the first time around. It's a bit like old hat now."