AS the old year ends, it is usual to look forward to a new one with optimism.

Sadly, this will not be the case for many households in Cumbria ravaged by the worst floods in decades.

For them, the misery could go on for most of 2016 as they try to make the best of things in temporary accommodation while their ruined homes are repaired.

Storm Desmond's devastating impact came at the end of a year already marked by highs and lows for the county.

In particular, public spending cuts continued to bite, especially threatening vital services such as part-time fire services which the Gazette began a campaign to save. The floods have made it abundantly clear how valuable local retained fire stations are - and this realisation alone ought to lead to the scrapping of the closure plans.

Less under threat are Cumbria's voluntary mountain rescue teams (MRTs) which have also played a vital role in the flood story. Thankfully, they continue to be well-funded by donations from individual members of the public; a factor which should send a message to the Government about the country's desire to support emergency services, whether they be state-controlled or operated by volunteers and charities.

In Cumbria, the floods have had a particularly devastating impact on farmers, with pastureland inundated and livestock drowned. This came on top of what was already a difficult year as milk and lamb prices fell to levels that are unsustainable in the long term.

Thankfully, retailers began to realise they should do more to help producers with fairer farm gate deals. The challenge for farmers and their representatives will be to do their bit towards better co-operation and competitiveness - while also keeping the political pressure on supermarkets and ministers.

A new year inevitably brings new challenges, but some of the current issues will continue to blight people's lives.

Yet, as we can already see from the public's generosity in response to the floods and the stoicism of those directly affected, the people of Cumbria will continue to rise to those challenges with determination and, hopefully, growing optimism.