TAKE ACTION: Flood-risk residents ‘fearing the worst’
Loftus residents Julie Graham and Nigel Turpin, who fear a repeat of the flood which hit homes in St Hilda's Place in January, Image: Terry Blackburn/Teesside Live
Residents who fear a repeat of their homes being flooded say they are fighting a ‘David versus Goliath’ battle to get the authorities to take action.
St Hilda’s Place, in Loftus, east Cleveland, flooded following a storm in January, with one disabled woman having to be rescued from her home and mud and sewage being left behind.
Residents living in the cottages, which are at the bottom of a dip, and who have raised concerns claim that
:: The drainage system running under the adjacent main road is inadequate
:: They were told by the local council there was no money to buy flood defence boards for their homes
:: A local landowner has made the situation worse by installing drainage in nearby fields with the subsequent water run-off down a steep slope overwhelming existing drains and sewage pipes.
Nigel Turpin, who has lived in St Hilda’s Place for the past six years, said the existing drainage system usually fed into a beck opposite his house, but it had been unable to cope with the flood of water, leading drains to back up during the incident in January.
He said: “The effect was flooding started very quickly.
“My ground floor would have gone if it wasn’t for a Guisborough-based fire pump who stopped to help and somehow started shifting the water.”
Mr Turpin said people living across the road in Arlington Street and East Crescent previously had door floodgate barriers fitted by Redcar and Cleveland Council with the aid of a scheme which reimburses councils managing flood risks, but this had not been made available to St Hilda’s Place residents.
The barriers, or boards, are used to seal door frames in order to keep water out.
Mr Turpin said he was also worried about a new mini-roundabout development being built by the council in Arlington Street and what effect it would have on local drainage.
He described a “David versus Goliath” battle to get help and said residents wanted to know if there was funding available to protect their properties along with any “bigger picture” proposals to mitigate flood risks in the area.
The former careers advisor said he understood a flood prevention plan was due to be discussed at a meeting in December of the Loftus Neighbourhood Action Partnership.
He also said there had been discussion about the possibility of a warning klaxon to tell homeowners when to evacuate in case of a flood, which was “not exactly encouraging”.
Mr Turpin added: “Wheels seem to be turning and assorted surveys are being done, but we still have no concrete information about any plans.
“I can’t afford expensive flood barriers so I have had a go at making my own.”
Mr Turpin’s neighbour Julie Graham said the council had “brushed the matter to one side” and also claimed council workers stated there was no money for flood defences.
She said: “They said they’d run out of money for us.
“When it gets overwhelmed [the drainage system] the water has nowhere else to go.
“The two end houses have had all the sewage and mud through them.
“We fear the worst and are just sitting and waiting for the next big storm.”
In a statement a council spokesman said the flooding which had affected St Hilda’s Place in January was due to a combination of flows from the Loftus Beck, along with surface water and sewer flooding.
He said: “The council in partnership with the Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water have commissioned a study which will help us to understand in more detail the risk of further flooding in the area.
“This study is currently underway and once complete will allow the organisations to look at the options for the long-term management of flood risk at St Hilda’s Place and the wider Loftus area.
“Completing hydraulic modelling studies and appraising future flood alleviation schemes is a lengthy process.
“Therefore while this work continues our community engagement officer will be working with the residents of St Hilda’s Place to provide advice on community resilience and preparing for potential flooding.
“The council have also held conversations with the local landowners and farmers in relation to the drainage off their land.
“We have advised them on suitable improvements to help alleviate and better manage the flow of water from the land into local watercourses.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service also approached the Environment Agency for a comment in relation to the matters raised.
It said a community flood plan for the area was being developed and it was undertaking a range of activities to address both flood risk and climate change impacts.
The agency said the council had the remit for surface water flooding and any grants available to make properties more resilient to flooding.
Homeowners can sign up for Environment Agency flood warnings and receive advice about what to do in a flood by visiting the website https://check-for-flooding.service.gov.uk/
Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Democracy Reporter
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