ADVICE: Jo Turnbull
ADVICE: Jo Turnbull

RECENTLY, I was down south, bemoaning the odd rain shower. While I was there, terrible flash floods saw a month’s rain fall inside three hours up here.

I have friends in Swaledale and after returning home visited both Leyburn and Reeth.

It brought home the scale of the devastation; the photographs in newspapers and on social media really didn’t do justice to the extent of the problems.

Some roads and bridges had been washed away, cutting off farms and whole villages from the rest of the world.

Stone walls were knocked down and sheep drowned. Big bales of silage were completely ruined.

Helping those affected by extreme weather, be it floods, snow, or droughts, is something we do all the time at RABI.

When Cumbria was badly affected by floods in the early part of 2016, we gave out more than £80,000 in the county in around three months.

Similarly, we provided emergency payments to many families affected by flooding on the Somerset Levels in 2014/15.

Having your home or your farm flooded is a traumatic experience, both emotionally and financially. Most farmers will be insured, but that won’t recompense them for all the losses and misery.

Often, there is stock to replace as well as winter feed, if recently-made silage has been ruined.

Walls that have been destroyed and farm tracks that have been eroded do not just fix themselves.

It takes time, effort and money to put things right.

To support more people locally, affected by the recent floods, we’ve joined forces with the NFU, local authorities and other organisations to work in partnership and help affected farmers get back on their feet.

Our regional officers attended local marts, including the one at Leyburn, to raise awareness of what we can do and encourage more families to get in touch.

To date, we’ve not seen a surge in calls to our helpline, but we often find there’s a time lag between someone suffering hardship and contacting us for help, so we expect to receive more calls in the coming weeks and months.

Of course, we’d much rather people contacted us sooner rather than later – so we can prevent many problems from arising in the first place and provide much needed emotional support.

Storms usually disappear as quickly as they arrive. However, the impact on those families affected can be long-lasting with damage to farms, homes and the wider infrastructure taking months, sometimes years, to recover.

Reacting to what the elements throw at you is part of a farmer’s life.

But extreme weather, like we’ve seen recently, creates unique challenges that no one should have to face alone.

Call RABI’s confidential Freephone Helpline 0808 2819490.