Heamoor amputee Tim Evans 'let down' during flood threat
A DOUBLE amputee said he was left helpless after Cornwall Council refused to provide him with sandbags during last week's flooding.
Tim Evans was told he had to find his own bags despite telling two council staff that he had no legs and was partially sighted.
The 52-year-old, who lives in Heamoor with his wife Dee, feels let down by the authority and believes thousands of others have suffered like him.
"There are so many disabled and vulnerable people around who the only people they can turn to are the council," said Mr Evans, who for 12 years volunteered as a special constable. "And the council lets us down."
The first call to County Hall was made by Mrs Evans at around 7.30am on Saturday, November 24, when Heamoor was already affected by minor flooding.
She was put straight through to the fire service who told her to call back later and tell the council the couple were in "immediate distress".
"When she spoke to a council operative at lunchtime on Saturday she was told that there was no provision for sandbags in the budget and we should buy our own," said Mr Evans.
"I took over the call at this point and explained that as I couldn't drive I had no way to get any sandbags and no way of filling or placing the same to protect my property, my wife and myself."
Branding the council's lack of support unacceptable, Mr Evans was told a supervisor would call him back. But she repeated the same story.
"She said that many places would sell me some if I needed them, even after again explaining my disabilities. She didn't really give a damn."
With no prospect of help from the council and no way of getting his own bags, Mr Evans and his wife tried to barricade their garden gate.
The couple have previous experience of the fallout a major flood can cause. They lost almost everything in the ground floor of their home nine years ago due to flooding.
Luckily this time a neighbour's friend arrived with sandbags and there was enough for Mr and Mrs Evans to have two.
"By this time the water was coming through the gate and down the front path," he said. "It was very worrying. I am eternally grateful to my neighbour and their friend. We have a good community and we look after each other."
After a sleepless night the waters receded.
"We were left feeling helpless and if the property had been badly damaged we know it would have been a very bad Christmas for us both," he said.
Following the flooding, Mr Evans contacted Cornwall Council about the incident but he has yet to hear back.
"It scares me that the biggest facility for help is the council; it had the access and staff but the help wasn't there.
"It is like calling 999 and someone saying, 'they're out playing football'. But to say, 'it is up to you', that has surely damaged the reputation of the council."
A spokesman for Cornwall Council said it did not have a statutory duty to provide sandbags but considered emergency requests on a case-by-case basis according to apparent vulnerability.
"Businesses and householders who know that they are at risk of flooding were advised to prepare and, as a precautionary measure, to make their own arrangements to purchase sandbags," they said.
"We recognise, however, the difficulties facing Mr Evans and will be passing on his details to his local Cornwall councillor and the council's localism team so they contact him to discuss a way forward in case of any future flooding incidents."