Katy Dowell visits the Cornish village of Boscastle three months on from the floods that devastated it With the insurance industry's help, the small town is making a steady recovery.
The floods in the village of Boscastle this August put the insurance industry in the public spotlight. But what could have been a PR nightmare for insurers and loss adjusters has turned into a dream.
At Christmas, the BBC will air a special edition of its home makeover show Changing Rooms, featuring a visit from Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and a kitchen renovation for a Boscastle couple whose home and business was devastated by the floods.
That couple, Sue and Nev Chamberlain, own the village bakery, on the banks of the Valency River. The floods not only swamped their ground floor, but rose through the ceiling into the first floor. A three-ton oven was washed away, taking with it the business. The oven was later found 150 yards away, by the harbour.
The story the programme doesn't tell, however, is that it is only thanks to the Chamberlain's insurer, Norwich Union, and loss adjuster, Cunningham Lindsay, that the first floor kitchen was made dry enough for Llewelyn-Bowen's entourage to work their magic.
And it is thanks to those companies that the bakery, the Chamberlain's lifeblood, is set to reopen next Easter, in time to capitalise on the busy summer season.
The Chamberlains say the prospect of sorting out insurance was initially overwhelming. The floods came at their busiest time of year and could have left them in financial ruin, were it not for the swift response of their insurers. "We received an interim payment from our insurers within a week of the floods," Sue says. "We used to have people queuing out the door throughout July and August and that is how we survived the winter."
To resolve the insurance claim Sue says she had one-on-one contact all the way through and there were no problems. "Our accountant is coordinating our books with the loss adjusters at the moment, based on what we earned last year. But we have been given enough money to survive."
Cunningham Lindsey project manager Nick Datsun has been dealing with the Chamberlains' claim.
He says it has taken two months for the bakery to be dried out using specialist equipment.
But while, thanks to the BBC, the spotlight is on the Chamberlains, many other residents have similar stories to tell. Further down the harbour, Datsun points out the foundations where another business once stood. This property was washed away completely by the high tide.
"The property owner has been able to stay in the village," Datsun says.
"We are paying for her to live locally so she can come and visit whenever she wants."
Standing inside the empty shell of Howard Baker's home, you can still see how high the water rose by the tidemarks on the wall - "seven or eight feet", according to Baker. "The water annihilated everything, it took the back door off and destroyed everything inside," he says.
His confidence in some government agencies has waned since August. The loss adjusters, it seems, are the reliable ones.
"They were used to dealing with people who are traumatised," Baker says.
"They dealt with me so professionally that it installed confidence in me that everything was going to be alright."
His elderly mother's property, next door, was similarly affected. But Baker says that Royal & SunAlliance is ensuring that the recovery and restoration is going smoothly.
Something positive has come from this tragedy. One small village of people in North Cornwall has changed its view of big city insurance forever.