Elderly couple living on 'bombsite' due to sewage floods six months on
- Credit: Tony Webster
An elderly couple are living in a caravan after a sewage flood turned their bungalow into a “bombsite” and still waiting for work to take place more than six months on.
Tony and Maureen Webster, from Hartford, Huntingdon, had their home wrecked when sewage water burst out of an inspection chamber on their driveway in December last year.
Hazardous waste overflowed “like a fountain” before entering the three-bed bungalow and tearing up parquet flooring and ruining possessions.
Mr Webster, 84, who at the time was recovering from major cancer surgery, says he had been urging Anglian Water to install a non-return valve since 2013.
However, six months on from the flood, the couple are yet to have any work take place by the water company.
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While their house was being renovated they decided to move into a caravan on their driveway – but fear that another sewage flood could wreak havoc at any time.
Mr Webster said: “It looked like a lagoon at the front of our house and within half an hour it had got so deep that it came inside.
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“We were trying to contain it with towels but it got to such a height that it went down the hall, into other rooms and then flooded the garden.
“Despite my daily attempts to get help from Anglian Water there was nothing.
“Even a rat hole emerged in the filth on my driveway.”
In March, Mr Webster had a call from Anglian Water to say that crews would be coming out to put a camera down the sewer drain – but nothing happened.
They now state that work will be taking place next month.
“It’s eight years since the first distressing incident like this, yet here we are still fighting for a non-return valve to be fitted,” Mr Webster added.
“Now six months since we had the sewage flood and we’re still being told that someone may come out in six weeks' time.
“I have been shielding and at risk due to Covid yet living in these conditions.”
In a letter sent to Mr Webster on June 23, Anglian Water chief executive Peter Simpson said a CCTV survey was required and that the property would be added to a flood mitigation list.
“I can understand your frustration at the disruption and upset this has caused you,” the letter read.
“The flooding to your home was caused by extreme rainfall on top of already high ground water and watercourse levels which added further strain on the sewer network.
“Flooding mitigation can take many forms, including non-return valves, flood doors, flood barriers and sealed manhole covers.
“When installing flooding mitigation we must ensure that we are not simply passing the problem on to a different property, which is why CCTV surveying or modelling must be completed first.”
But Mr Webster said he fears that his home could be under water again if something isn’t done soon.
“My home was like a bombsite. It ripped up floors and damaged belongings.
“Yet despite having expensive flooring replaced soon; I still have to risk it all while I wait for Anglian Water to start their work.”
An Anglian Water spokesperson said that their investigations would help find the “most suitable long-term fix”.
“Following exceptional rainfall during the Christmas period, our teams are to begin extensive investigations into our sewer network around Church Lane, Hartford next month,” a statement read.
“These investigations will include CCTV work to ensure our assets are working as efficiently as they should, and will enable us to find any remove any blockages to increase the capacity of the sewer.
“Once this work has been completed we will be able to consider whether any additional work is necessary to help protect homes from flooding.
“We will shortly be in touch with local residents to outline the work and notify them of our progress to date.”