'It is a ticking timebomb' - Buckden floods force residents out of homes again

Flooding in Buckden on Friday June 18 

Buckden High Street flooded again last week - similar to this picture from June. - Credit: Catherine Keating

Heavy rain forced residents out of their homes during the night in Buckden – as people frantically tried to stop the deluge from gushing through their front doors. 

Rebecca Douglas, who lives in the High Street with her partner and two children, said she is “at the end of her tether” from fear of flooding. 

On Wednesday (October 20) at 4am, neighbours grabbed buckets and brooms to sweep rainwater away before it entered their homes. 

The community have pressed Cambridgeshire County Council over the past year to ensure their drains are regularly cleaned. 

However, the drains still flood in their road whenever there is a heavy downpour. 

“It is so frustrating; we just feel that no one wants to listen to us,” Rebecca said. 

“We were out of our houses at 4am, sweeping away the rain water, just to wait for it to roll back. We knew that we couldn’t just sit and do nothing. You just see frantic faces outside. 

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“Neighbours were out with buckets scooping up the water, while one man in his 60s put his hand down a drain to try and get the leaves out that were clogging it up. Others were in tears. How is this right? 

“I’m not sure I can cope if our houses flood again. You just go into autopilot in the moment but the mental health impact afterwards is huge. 

“It is like we are in a ticking timebomb. We are just sitting in fear."

Rebecca and her family – like many others across county – had their home destroyed when the worst floods in 20 years hit last Christmas. 

After living there for five years, they watched in despair as tables, sofas and possessions were washed up. 

Buckden flooding

Flooding in Buckden family home caused by clogged drains. - Credit: Family

Residents had feared that drains in the street had not been cleared for years – but it was only when council officials visited that they found large tree roots growing inside.   

Elisabeth Olding, who lives in Silver Street, Buckden, was also affected by the heavy rain earlier in the week. 

She fears that her listed property could be ruined if heavy rainfall leads to another flood.  

Flooding in Buckden has meant a blocked drain has overflowed.

Flooding in Buckden has meant a blocked drain has overflowed. - Credit: Elisabeth Olding

The widow, who is in her 80s, said: “At 5am I could hear the rain on my window and expected the worst.  

“Sure enough, the road was awash with the drains outside my house overflowing as usual and the water all along the front of my house 6cm high. 

“It went all the way round my house and over 6cm outside my door. Another 10 minutes of that rain and it would have come inside. It was 10cm at the side of the house.” 

Elisabeth is also concerned about the damage underneath her property and plans for more houses to be built nearby. 

Since the Christmas floods, Cambridgeshire County Council has cleaned thousands of drains across the county, while offering residents support through their flood programme.

Flooding Buckden house

Flooding in Buckden family home caused by clogged drains. - Credit: Family

They say that Buckden will be one of their main priorities for full cleaning next year.

Until then, residents hope that this winter is kinder than last.

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “Our highways team carries out a drain clearing programme across the county.

"Drains in Buckden – including on the High Street - were cleaned earlier this year and further cleaning will be carried out at the beginning of next year.

"We are also in the process of designing an additional drainage scheme for the High Street in Buckden to reduce the impact of flooding in the area.

“A large amount of rain in a small space of time can overwhelm the drains, which was the case last week, and we understand the challenges faced by residents who live in areas which are at higher risk of flooding.

"We will continue to work closely with residents and partners through our community flood action programme.”


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