On 30th October 2008, Otterton Mill was hit by the worst floods in at least 40 years. The entire complex was under water for about twelve hours due to freak weather conditions isolated to the Otter Valley.
Head Baker, Roy Hamilton, discovered the flood at 5am and alerted Ed Chester, Head Chef, who came in to help Roy reach the mill. Caroline and Simon were on holiday in Cornwall with Emily and after receiving word from Roy returned immediately. By 11am when they arrived the water was starting to retreat and the extent of the damage became apparent. All of the building had been flooded, up to depths of two feet in some parts of the original mill building, and standing water remained in the bakery and shop.
The clean-up, salvage and rescue (see chicken update on this blog) operations started immediately and we thank everyone for all their offers of help and support. We are especially grateful to our neighbours, Bruce and Jill Beacham, for providing us access to their toilets during the clean-up. We've also had great support from all of our staff, many of whom are working around the clock to help us open as soon as possible.
At the time of writing we are faced with a disaster recovery process which could take up to two months to conclude. However, the opening will be phased and at the moment we expect our Bakery and a temporary Devon Food Shop to be back in business by Wednesday, November 12th. We are also planning to open a satellite gallery on Budleigh High Street, starting the week of November 19th. Many thanks to Tom at the Dairy and Angela of the Brook Gallery for their help arrange this option.
Finally, we are doing our best to create opportunity out of disaster. We will be launching a new charity, Friends of Otterton Mill, shortly to generate funds to help with the ongoing restoration of the mills ancient workings and to help us keep the mill and regular demonstrations available to the public at no fee. We will also be using the down time to refit our shop and other changes to the restaurant and gallery.
Please keep an eye on this blog for details of our opening and the launch of Friends of Otterton Mill.
Everyone at the Mill