IT was a rain-sodden afternoon across Somerset.

Although a storm was forecast, no one could have predicted the chaos that would ensue as night fell, particularly in Bridgwater.

As the rains continued to fall, businesses had to close and homes had to prepare for flooding as water levels continued to rise.

But the biggest, most dramatic shock, was about to take place.

Steve Coram was leaving West Quay Records when he witnessed something he said he would 'never forget'.

"I saw the whole riverbank just collapse outwards, towards the river," he said.

"Thank God no one was hurt.

"It was an absolutely unbelievable sight and I will never forget it.

"I had a lucky escape."

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What Steve saw was a 40-metre stretch of the riverside wall in Bridgwater town centre collapse, a result of the heavy rainfall throughout the day, which saw three to four inches of water streaming down town streets.

Jason Kirk, who runs a hotdog stall on East Quay, also had a potentially horrifying experience as he looked across the river.

"The first I knew something was wrong was when I heard a firefighter shout at a couple, 'get off the wall'," he told the Mercury.

"As they were walking along it, next to railings, it had split behind them. But they were oblivious to it.

"The firefighter then ran round the bridge to them and told them to get off, quickly.

"They looked behind them and saw a big gap in the wall.

"They were very lucky."

After the collapse, when the Mercury went to press, 30 people had been moved from their homes and premises, and did not yet know when they would be able to return.

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David Swann, 44, was told to leave his home, in Fisherman's Wharf and was staying at the YMCA.

"I've had five minutes to run in and out of my home to collect some belongings," he said.

Residents who had been moved were taken first to the Bridgwater Arts Centre and on to the YMCA once it became clear they would not be able to return to their homes immediately.

In the days and weeks following the initial collapse, more parts of the wall fell into the Parrett, meaning work to investigate any repair could not be carried out.

Two weeks after the collapse Claire Faun, from Sedgemoor District Council, said work to repair the wall was similar to that which needed to be carried out in the Cornish village following floods in 2004.

“Unfortunately there will be no quick fix to this problem," she said.

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"Although there weren’t any dramatic pictures of cars floating down the river like we saw in Boscastle, the damage is extensive.

“We need to carry out work which will last for the future. It is no good putting a sticking plaster solution in place which will fail in a year’s time.”

Eventually, the wall was rebuilt, but not before a logistical project on a huge scale was undertaken to repair the foundations of the Quay and, finally, rebuild the wall.

The new West Quay was officially re-opened on June 6, 2013.

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