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Shop set up in Ponsanooth pub after flood damages store: PICTURES
10:00am Wednesday 1st January 2014 in News
Villagers in Ponsanooth have set up shop in the local pub after the village stores were left under two feet of flood water on the night before Christmas Eve.
When shop owner Michelle Firminger, who lives behind the shop, came home at 9.30pm to find the premises flooded, she also found half a dozen people willing to help unblock drains and bail out flood waters.
She was offered a hot drink, and somewhere to sleep for the night, and the next day she had more than 40 people helping empty water, clear out and itemise ruined stock, and clean up her ruined floor.
Speaking on Christmas Eve, Michelle said: “I can’t get over the way people have come together, it shows what people in Ponsanooth will do to help.
“I know the people here but they’re not particularly close friends, but everybody just steps in.
“The shop has just been refurbished, and everybody’s just trying to do whatever they can to get things sorted.”
By the end of the week the owners of The Stag Hunt Inn, Garry and Usha James, had stepped in, offering the use of part of the bar so Michelle could sell essentials such as milk, bread and eggs, as well as providing a place for the collection of post and prescriptions.
Usha said: “I couldn’t believe it, people don’t do this kind of thing for the rest of the year, but when it counts they’re there. It wasn’t just the older people, the builders and the plumbers, it was all age groups.”
Garry added: “It’s just one business helping out another in the village, so they can keep trading while they sort out the flooded shop.”
Michelle, who has lived in Ponsanooth for three years, took the shop on in February and refurbished it entirely while still remaining open for customers, and was nominated for the Countryside Alliance award for best village shop or post office in the South West. Wendy Graham, who was due to start working at the shop over Christmas, helped run the shop on Friday afternoon.
She said: “It’s so sad because Michelle built he shop up and refurbished it, and then she had to spend some time in hospital, she should still be signed off, and now this has happened. It’s trying to keep a momentum going, because she’s built it up from nothing, she’s had a good time and she’s well loved in the village.
Wendy said villagers were organising a car service for elderly residents who now have to travel further afield to collect their pensions, and that the Post Office will look to provide some measure of temporary post office facility.
One villager has also offered a piece of land which he uses as a car park to set up a temporary shop while the stores are returned to use, and so Michelle’s next step is to find a cabin or shed which can be placed on the site.
Michelle gave a reading at the village’s Christmas Eve service, and said afterwards on Facebook: “Many people today have asked me how come I have not appeared more upset by a wrecked shop and house on Christmas Eve.
“Your care, support and love has made my Christmas. I am currently at risk of re-enacting the Vicar of Dibley with the number of lunch invites I have had for tomorrow.
“Thank you Ponsanooth. Your shop will return as soon as physically possible, so watch this space.”
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