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Reporters sleep rough to get full story on flood disaster

Reporters slept rough in their cars to stay in Boscastle and file the full story on the area’s devastating floods for the Western Morning News.

Two reporters and two photographers were able to get into the heart of the village to report on the events as they happened – despite having little or no telephone communication with the newsroom.

Their paper printed an extra 8,000 copies and added eight pages to the paper to get the most out of its coverage.

  • Click on image to see full-size pic
  • Some 6cm of rain fell in two hours in and around Boscastle, Cornwall, causing around 50 vehicles to be swept into the harbour and at least two buildings to collapse.

    WMN editor Barrie Williams said: “We did nine pages with some sensational pictures.

    “Newspaper sales went bananas – it has been selling out all over.

    “We got in touch with our reporters with great difficulty because not even mobile phones were working. They could only contact us sporadically – it was absolute chaos.

    “There was no power, the roads were totally blocked, it looked like something from a disaster movie with helicopters lifting people of roofs and from trees.

    “It looks like we stuffed the nationals – which is always nice. Looking at this morning’s newspapers we got fantastic coverage compared with everyone else.”

    Reporters Lucy Cockcroft and Rebecca Short, and photographer Mark Pearson were the first WMN staff into Boscastle.

    Barrie said: “All three slept rough overnight and are still filing copy today – that’s professionalism for you!

    “Other reporters got into the village later and everyone did a brilliant job. We also had a backup team of reporters in other parts of the area.

    “There was an alert that the same storm was heading for north Devon so we had a north Devon team on alert all night. Mercifully it didn’t get there.”

    Barrie said the WMN was following up yesterday’s paper with another special edition covering the aftermath of the disaster.

    He said: “We are doing another special today looking at the devastation in the cold light of day. We have picked up a lot of human interest stories about people’s bravery and courage.

    “It was 52 years to the day of the Lynton and Lynmouth flood disaster which is indelible in the history of the Westcountry. That started on the night of the 15th and on the 16th the full horror became evident – it’s an extraordinary coincidence.”

    Do you have a story about the regional press? Ring 0116 227 3122/3121, or
    e-mail pastill@nep.co.uk