Christmas floods worst than flooding in 1998 say environment agency

Flooding in St Neots

Flooding in St Neots - Credit: Andza Alive

The Hunts Post asked the authorities what residents in Huntingdonshire can do if flooding occurs again and what prevention work is being carried out.  

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Our focus will soon turn to the recovery from this significant event, which exceeded what was experienced in the last major flooding incident for this area in 1998. 

“We will be following up on calls received to better understand the nature of the flooding during this event and use this information to refine the flood warning service and the community’s flood response arrangements.  

In the meantime, we encourage anyone who has been flooded to report it to the Environment Agency incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.” 

On December 23, places such as Alconbury, Ramsey, St Neots, Huntingdon, St Ives, Tilbrook and Fen Drayton were badly affected.  

Between December 23 and Christmas Day morning, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service dealt with more than 600 incidents across Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. 

Some residents had to be evacuated from their homes due to severe  flooding.  

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Anglian Water have said: “It’s likely this is caused by fluvial flooding – that of heavy rain/wet weather impacting the local river and watercourses – as opposed to it being down to a fault/issue with our assets. 

“In the case of recent wet weather, it was simply not possible for our systems to cope with such river flooding and wet weather, and we aren’t able to tanker away a burst river, which is the cause of some of these problems.” 

 “Although we plan for incidents like this, it always brings challenges, especially during the early dynamic phases.  

“Residents can help with this by following some simple steps, such as checking for weather warnings, having sand bags to hand (even homemade ones using sand from any home maintenance shop) and never driving through a flood water on a road. More information about being prepared is available in our Community Safety section.

A council chairman has welcomed an initiative by his authority to bring bosses from organisations together in a bid to tackle flooding issues in Huntingdonshire. 

Councillor John Davies, chairman of Huntingdonshire District Council, said their chief executive was calling for a meeting with organisations including Anglian Water, the Environment Agency, the Highways Agency and Cambridgeshire County Council to discuss the situation. 

Councillor Davies said: "I think it is the only way forward. I recall the flooding in St Audrey Lane where surface water from the road got into the sewage system causing it to back up and the properties were flooded with water and sewage and that has got to be 10 years ago." 

Cllr Davies became a councillor after growing concerned about drainage problems in the town of St Ives and said that the various authorities having responsibility for different parts of the system was an issue and he hoped that bringing them together virtually would "get things moving". 

Rachel, Purvis, of St Audrey Lane, St Ives, whose house flooded two days before Christmas Day, said her property had flooded once a year on average since she moved in 20 years ago and her complaints to the flood agencies and local authorities had got her nowhere. 

She and her husband Andy had installed their own equipment to stop the flooding but it regularly became overwhelmed with water and sewage. 

This time there had been 6cms of water across the downstairs of the property which was facing having the floors ripped up, walls repaired and redecoration after assessors had finished, with air conditioners being installed to dry out the building.

"Something has got to be done because it is affecting so many people," she said. 

Mrs Purvis also thanked neighbours and others who stopped to help her as her home became overwhelmed with water, but she described Christmas as a "non-event" for her family.