Thousands of drains cleared but residents still 'live in fear' of flooding

Cambridgeshire County Council say they have cleared thousands of drains - but residents are still concerned.

Cambridgeshire County Council say they have cleared thousands of drains - but residents are still concerned. Pictured is flooding in St Neots at Christmas. - Credit: Andris Cablis

A raft of measures are in place for clearing drains, ditches and working with the community after devastating floods hit the region, county council bosses say. 

Here at The Hunts Post we wanted to see if residents felt enough had been done by officials in recent months. 

While county council bosses say they have cleared thousands of drains in St Ives, St Neots and Sawtry  – residents are yet to believe that roads won’t flood again. 

Flooding in St Neots.

Flooding in St Neots at Christmas. - Credit: Andza Alive

“We are constantly living in fear this will happen again,” said Rebecca Douglas who had to move out of the family home in Buckden High Street in December. 

Her unease was heightened when days before she was set to move back in this month, her neighbours house flooded again.  

“The council have not carried out regular cleaning and the drains can’t cope with pressure,” she added. 

A county council spokesperson confirmed that the drains on Buckden High Street, St Audrey Lane in St Ives and Somersham Road/Needingworth Road have all been cleared. 

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Terry Lincoln, also from St Ives, watched in horror as floodwater wrecked his home within hours earlier in the year.  

He said: “It has been such a mess and the more we look for things, the more we seem to have lost - I lost nearly all my tools and garden equipment as well as everything in the house and garage.  

This photo of Huntingdon Racecourse was taken from the air on Christmas Eve.

This photo of Huntingdon Racecourse was taken from the air on Christmas Eve. - Credit: Geoff Soden

“The main problems were at our end of St Ives, at the Somersham Road/Needingworth Road junction area.   

“The only response we've had so far is that Cambridgeshire County Council say the complaint is now closed.” 

Carol Osborne, who along with husband David, both in their 70s, were left frightened when their home in Station Road, Bluntisham, was hit by flash floods last August.    

“The council did remedial work after that and cleared some of the drains on our corner in Bluntisham, which has been a help in flood prevention since then, especially over the Christmas period,” she said.  

“This maintenance work has to be done regularly though and we haven’t seen any being done in the last few months. 

"We are taking matters into our own hands to some extent by funding our own flood prevention devices to at least slow down a flood in future.    

“For us, the thought of another flood, with its subsequent trauma, expense, mental anguish and chaos, doesn’t bear thinking about.” 

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said the full council agreed to a new community flood action programme to “increase the county’s resilience and ability to adapt to flooding through improving access to flood risk information, improving data quality and support for local flood groups to establish community flood plans”. 

 “Our highways team is continuing to work with our contractor to significantly increase the drain clearing with extra crews on the ground,” they continued. 

“We have cleared 1,405 drains out of 5,904 in St Neots and we expect the rest to be completed over the next three months.  

“We have cleared 2,947 drains in St Ives, 1,061 in Sawtry and 908 across Alconbury and Alconbury Weston to name just a few.  

“Our crews are due to start clearing the drains in Godmanchester at the end of this week, followed by Brampton in June. 

“We know the flooding over Christmas 2020 had a devastating impact on local residents.  

“Since then, we have been carrying out walk-arounds in several locations across Huntingdonshire to gain better knowledge of the flooding hot spots. 

“We have sent letters to various landowners reminding them to keep their ditches and drains clear, in St Ives and St Neots, we continue to work with our partners to identify key risk factors that contributed to the flooding, and to optimise any opportunities to reduce the impact of any future flooding.” 

A free event on Thursday (May 27) for residents in Alconbury and Alconbury Weston to learn about flood resilience is also set to take place as part of the Ox-Cam Pathfinder project to be hosted by the county council.