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'THE WATER WAS UP TO MY WAIST ...BUT I JUST KEPT GOING' CARE HOME PAIR IN LINE FOR AWARD AFTER FLOOD HEROISM.

Byline: ABBIE WIGHTWICK abbie.wightwick@walesonline.co.uk

TWO care home WORKERS have relived their terrifying dash through icy North Wales floodwaters to reach elderly residents after their heroic actions were recognised for a top award.

The Old Deanery was one of 400 properties hit when torrential rain caused the River Elwy in St Asaph to burst its banks early on November 27 last year.

With roads closed, care assistant Jane Heath-Coleman, 35, waded through deeply-flooded gardens and borrowed two sets of ladders from householders to get over the perimeter wall and into the home where 21 residents aged between 70 and 98 were waiting.

Jane got there just minutes before manager Lisa Bowen arrived after abandoning her car to make her way there on foot.

"I've never seen anything like the flooding before in my life but all the staff were incredible and just pulled together," said Lisa, 32, daughter of the home's owners Barry and Linda Mahon.

Lisa was alerted to the crisis early in the morning when her sister - who lives in the city - told her the river had burst its banks and she'd been evacuated from her house.

"My parents and I all live in nearby Rhyl and there was no problem with flooding over there, so the first I knew that things were getting really serious over in St Asaph was when my sister rang me at around 6am to say the river had come over and she'd been evacuated by the emergency services," Lisa said.

"The river isn't far away from the Old Deanery, so my first thought was for the safety of our residents.

"I rang the home and spoke to the night staff but they weren't really sure what was happening outside. I called mum and dad and they have a four-wheel-drive Range Rover, so we piled in and headed for St Asaph.

"The main roads were closed, so we went round another way to get there. When we eventually got to the bottom of the road the home is on, things looked pretty bad.

"The water was already very deep but I just knew I had to reach the home, so I left my mum and dad with the car while I waded in. It was really cold and the water was up to my waist but the adrenalin must have kicked in and I just kept going. Further along the road a firefighter shouted at me to stop because of the danger. But I told him who I was and that I was trying to reach the Old Deanery. He then led me the rest of the way there."

As Lisa was battling towards the home, her colleague Jane was making her own way to the Old Deanery from her home in Rhyl.

"Jane got there 10 minutes before me and we saw the water was coming in through every nook and cranny. It wasn't too deep but it was very worrying.

"I phoned the county council who sent some sandbags and we put them everywhere we could see the water appearing, which stopped it.

"We got all the residents into the lounge, reassured them everything was fine, made sure they were warm and gave them their breakfast."

By about 8.30am firefighters had pumped out all the water and, apart from some residents having to move out of their rooms because water got in and problems with the electricity, everything was soon back to normal," Lisa said.

Lisa and Jane have now been named finalists in the 2013 Wales Care Awards, run in association with Care Forum Wales. Winners will be announced at a ceremony at City Hall, Cardiff, on Friday.

CAPTION(S):

Jane Heath-Coleman, left, and Lisa Bowen raced to the rescue during last November's devastating floods in St Asaph
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 13, 2013
Words:632
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