A Preston gift shop owner has become the unlikely leader of the official Cumbrian floods aid relief mission.
Touched by scenes of devestation in some of her favourite holiday spots, Janey Dee, who runs Owl and Heartflower in Watery Lane decided to help.
She set up the Christmas For Cumbria appeal on Facebook and was “overwhelmed” by the response from people in Preston.
Now she is co-ordinating national donations for stricken families from a warehouse on Preston Docks, with convoys beginning to set off today.
She said: “Because I run a gift shop, I wanted to collect some gifts for the children of Cumbria this Christmas.
“I put it on Facebook with information on what people should do if they wanted to donate, and was inundated with offers, which was wonderful. Then I asked for some space to put the donations and I was contacted by a man with a warehouse on the docks that is the size of an aeroplane hanger.”
Working with other people running collections in the local area, Janey contacted the team running the Cumbrian relief efforts, and the warehouse became the focus point of a national effort.
Janey said: “All of a sudden the warehouse had become the national collection point and I was running it.
“Now we’ve got truck loads of pallets coming to us that need to be sorted and distributed along the A roads.
“We’ve been blown away by people’s generosity.”
The warehouse is accepting non-food items, non-perishable food items and there is a particular need for packing materials.
Anyone who wishes to make a donation is asked to call in to Unit 7 Chain Caul Way, Ashton-on-Ribble. Further details are available by visiting: facebook.com/groups/cumbriafloodvolunteers.
Other collections are taking places across central Lancashire, including one run by members of Jamea Masjid Community Centre in Clarendon Street and members of Christ Central Preston.
Tomorrow the church will be collecting donations of cleaning products at Morrison’s, on Preston Docks, from 10am to 2pm.
Meanwhile, around eight properties in St Michaels were evacuated yesterday as river levels rose again.
The village’s flood defences were breached in spite of round-the-clock work to fix the river embankment since the weekend. The military was again drafted in yesterday to repair the damage ahead of yet more rain forecast to fall tomorrow.
The Environment Agency has downgraded the level of alert in St Michaels but a flood warning – which means immediate action is required – remains in place.
A statement issued last night said: “Following the rain overnight, river levels are falling. This flood warning will remain in force due to works to repair the breach. Current forecasts indicate that further rain is expected on Saturday morning.”
Lancashire Fire and Rescue said sandbags used to patch up the flood defences helped limit the impact of the latest downpour.
A spokesman added: “There was another breach in part of the bank. They have built up the banks with mud where they have needed to.”
Water levels were last night falling but the River Brock was still at risk of flooding. It peaked at 3.4m yesterday, well above the ‘safe’ level of 0.9m but below the 4.2m recorded on Sunday.
Yesterday morning the River Ribble at Lower Penwortham threatened to break its banks. Water overflowed in a small area, but large puddles were seen further along Leyland Road.
, covering the tarmac between the junction of Marshalls Brow and Penwortham Sports and Social Club.
A spokesman for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said: “We haven’t been called out to deal with any flooding in the Penwortham area, but the river levels are very high.”