Wednesday, November 24, 2010 - 11:31

Cornwall and the Eden Project signalled today: “We’re getting back to business,” a week after devastating floods.

While affected businesses in St Austell and surrounding towns and villages work to re-open in time for the Christmas trade, Eden opened its doors to visitors for the first time this morning since floodwater deluged parts of its site on November 17.

Following a massive clean-up involving hundreds of staff, Eden’s Visitor Centre and Core education building are now fully open while work continues on the waterlogged Link Building between the two Biomes and severely damaged ice rink. The Biomes themselves and Eden’s plant collection escaped damage from the torrential rain.

To the sound of the Eden Choir and a lone Cornish piper, hundreds of staff turned out to witness Eden’s official re-opening by staff member Di Mullis whose own home in Lostwithiel was severely flooded.

During a break in the clouds she cut the ribbon and paid tribute to the Eden team: “I know what you’ve done in the last seven days here and it’s with that wonderful achievement and spirit that I’m absolutely privileged to reopen Eden and take our wonderful Eden Project into the future.”

Tim Smit, Eden’s chief executive, said: “A week ago we were all in shock because none of us could believe that such an amount of water could fall in just a few hours. At the same time we had many friends and colleagues who had been washed out from their own houses so there was a real sense of crisis.

“At Eden, staff came in as it was flooding and by the time the flood was starting to abate we had a full crew starting the clean-out. It looked as if it was going to be an impossible task but we’ve been working 24-seven here and today we’re back in business.”

Eden’s managing director Gaynor Coley said: “This team really represents Cornish spirit and the support to other people in adversity. This week we have seen that human spirit kick in and the power of teamwork.

"The local community's response to the flooding has demonstrated that resilient communities muster energy, generosity and real muscle in such difficult times.

"The job of re-building both for Eden and the local community is not yet complete. Many people face challenges to repair their homes or reinstate their businesses. But with the help of the local community, as well as volunteers and people across the country, I believe we'll turn this from a hope into a reality."

Eden’s re-opening was attended by VisitCornwall’s head of tourism Malcolm Bell, who called on visitors to support people in the county. He said: “The message is that Cornwall is open for business – 99.5% of businesses are open as far as accommodation, restaurants, pubs and all the top attractions including Eden. If people are on holiday here they can make a very positive difference in terms of supporting people’s livelihoods.”