Homeowners have been left devastated after sewage flooded into their properties. Firefighters had to come and pump out the stagnant water which poured into four houses in London Road on Saturday evening. It is thought the problem stems from a blockage in a drain that serves the 1840 Victorian properties.
In Angela Hurst’s basement flat the water was ankle deep, and took firefighters four hours to clear. The teary 59-year-old, who has lived in her flat for two years said:
I had just come back from shopping and couldn’t believe my eyes. The stinking water was running straight through my flat. I didn’t know what the hell to do. I tried to soak up some of the water with towels, but nothing seemed to work.
It is going to cost several thousand pounds to replace everything but what is really stressing me out is that I don’t have contents insurance.
I keeping smelling this awful stench and it’s making me feel ill. Southern Water has disinfected the whole flat but my concern is that the wooden floors are going to lift up and need replacing. I can’t believe this has happened to me it is like a bad dream.
This is the second time Angela’s neighbours have had their home flooded.
Father-of-two Paul Allain was expecting 60 friends round to help him and his family celebrate 10 years of living at their London Road townhouse, when they realised water was starting to seep into their basement. Professor Allain, who works at Kent University, said:
We had a similar problem about seven years ago, when the carpet was completely ruined. Because we live on a slight slope the water came right up to the doors and started to come into the house so we had to use towels to hold it back. Our guests didn’t know quite what to make of it all.
It’s frustrating because rather than sort out the problem Southern Water just seems to wait until something happens and then just react to a crisis. There needs to be regular maintenance of this drain. They have learnt nothing from when this last happened. They are avoiding replacing or upgrading the drain and leaving residents to pick up the pieces.
We tried to contact Southern Water’s emergency number and gave up after 10 minutes, and then had to wait four minutes another time. It is ridiculous and hardy the way to handle emergency calls. We pay a lot of money to Southern Water for not a lot in return.
The firefighters were brilliant and even closed the road at one point so they could deal with the water and the blockage. It is scary to think what effect budget cuts could have on their service. They really were faultless in their help.
‘Flooding incidents given the highest priority’
Southern Water spokesman Maria Harrison said:
First of all, we apologise for the problems that our customers have experienced. Flooding incidents are given the highest priority and as soon as we became aware of the problem we attended on site to help.
Our engineering team has confirmed that the flooding in London Road, Canterbury, was caused by a build up of fat in the public sewerage system, which in combination with the heavy rainfall experienced in the area, caused the system to become overloaded.
Foul flooding is one of the most unpleasant difficulties that can affect a property and an immediate clean-up operation was carried out by our team. Representatives of our customer relations team have been in regular contact with those affected.
Southern Water has no strict liability for wastewater flooding events which are beyond its control, therefore it is vital homeowners contact their insurance company as soon as possible after flooding. Claims for loss or damage must be directed to householders’ insurers who will provide advice as to what actions to take. Before items are removed every effort should be made to contact your insurance company for authorisation.
Kentish Gazette, 9th Dec 2010