Flooding clean-up 'complete by next March' but residents fear winter storms
- Credit: Terry Lincoln
Blocked drains and gullies in flooding hotspots across Huntingdonshire should all be cleaned by March next year – but residents fear winter weather will wreck their homes first.
As part of the Hunts Post ‘Fight the Floods’ campaign, we are continuing to speak to those who were effected at Christmas and the start of this year.
Although Cambridgeshire County Council has put a raft of preventative measures in place since then; residents claim drains are still blocked and overflowing when there is heavy rainfall.
County council bosses say that routine cleaning was reduced in the past due to “budget constraints” but are keen to continue with their cleaning across the district – with the majority of work set to be completed in the New Year.
However, is that too long a wait for flood victims?
John Waters, from Warren Road, St Ives, said: “It is raining again today [start of August] and within 20 minutes the street and garden are flooded and the drains are overflowing.
“Investigations aren't needed what is needed is physical action to clear the blockages.”
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Carol Osbourne, from Station Road in Bluntisham, said: “It doesn’t inspire confidence and the anxiety increases as the anniversary of our flood approaches."
Elisabeth Olding, 80, from Silver Street, Buckden, was forced to take action into her own hands to clean a blocked drain outside of her listed property.
She said: “I am distraught.
“In a local magazine, a councillor said that the drains installed 45 years ago only had a life-span of 25 years. ‘Probably par for the course in post war Britain, but no use to us’.
Becca Douglas, from Buckden High Street, said: “My partner is currently outside with neighbours manically sweeping to stop the flooding happening again.
“The drains aren’t fit for purpose and they remain root logged.”
Terry Lincoln, from St Ives, had his home wrecked during the December 2020 floods.
He says that the drains in his road have still not been cleaned.
“It's [the cleaning] been non-existent so far, in the Needingworth Road/St Audrey Lane area,” he added.
Cllr Peter McDonald, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s highways and transport committee, said: "Our highways team carries out a comprehensive drain clearing programme - including in Buckden, Offord and St Ives - which has seen recent cleaning take place, with further locations to be addressed shortly.
“A full drainage survey of the gullies and system in Buckden was also undertaken in July and a scheme is now under design to address the identified issues.
“Routine drain cleaning was reduced by the previous administration due to budget constraints.
"The council is taking an innovative approach to identifying which areas of the drainage system need cleaning through technology from KaarbonTech which allows us to assess the performance of the system. This helps us to plan which work should be prioritised.
"August has been a challenging month with unusual amounts of rainfall in a short space of time, reflecting changing weather patterns due to climate change. This led to our drainage system reaching capacity.
“We are determined to increase the county’s resilience to flooding and are working alongside a number of agencies to develop our management of the drainage systems going forward. But we also need landowners to help us by keeping their ditches and drains clear.”
Drain cleaning programme:
- A1123, Bluntisham - cleaning to be completed between January to March, 2022.
- Buckden High Street - cleaning carried out last December to January, with the next works to take place between January to March, 2022. The gullies and culvert under the road were also cleaned as part of the investigation on the drainage system following the flooding.
- Silver Street, Buckden - works to be completed between January to March, 2022. Gullies and culverts also cleaned under the road.
- Offord Cluny - cleaning took place in July.
- Warren Road/ Needingworth Road/St Audrey Lane, St Ives - cleaning due to take place in the next month.