Flooded homeowners want action
Residents have been hit by floods for the second time in two years
By Sarah Ward
When the residents at the bottom end of Waverley Road, Kettering woke up yesterday morning their gardens were still submerged in flood water.
Looking out at the devastation, they saw their well tended gardens had been turned into ponds, planters upturned and floating, sheds flooded, vegetables and flowers battered and spoiled.
The night before, during the heavy rainfall, once again their homes had been flooded, the second time they had endured a flooding event in two years. Like a number of households in Kettering streets which have the watercourse running underneath them, they were hit by floods as the surrounding drains and sewers failed to cope with the rainstorm that was hitting hardened ground after the recent heatwave and weeks of dry weather.
Doreen and Alan Foster, whose 1930s semi at the end of the street bore the brunt of the surging water, had to open their garage door as the floods hit after 10pm, letting the flood waters, which were coming up through drains and down the nearby hill, rush through and into their garden. Within minutes of it breaching their property the water was at their knees and climbing higher. The water level reached as high as 16 inches in their garage, ruining possessions as it climbed.
The flood water then surged into their next door neighbour Chris and Lynn Neal’s garden, uprooting everything in its path before it moved into the garden of young couple Carl Moran and Sarah Cowie, who had moved in just three months before.
The waters broke into the smart office at the bottom of their garden, causing several pounds worth of damage.
Chris, who has lived in his home for almost thirty years told NN Journal yesterday:
“We were thinking it was going to happen, but you can only prepare so much, because when it comes, it comes. In a matter of seconds it is up to your knees. It is like a river. My wife likened it to when you fill up a bucket to the top, and then it just keeps flowing. You have to see it to believe it.
“This morning, the electrics are out. The kitchen is going to have to be completely rewired.
“It will take weeks if not months to clean it out. Anything we have been growing like our vegetables are now all wasted as they have been spoiled. All the work my wife has done on the garden has just been ruined.”
For Doreen and Alan, who moved into the home in the late 1960s, the fact their property could flood during heavy rainfall is always on their mind. The floods have been happening sporadically over the past 20 years, but have become more frequent and devastating - with last night being the worst they have experienced.
“We knew sooner or later we would get another flood. But last night was just horrendous. I honestly thought I was going to have a heart attack. I couldn’t breathe and I had a pain in my chest. One of my neighbours took care of me.”
“It just comes on so suddenly. If we put sandbags on our drive we will just send the water next door. They [the authorities] have got to find some means to divert the water.”
After mopping up two years ago the residents now want something to be done.
“Nobody seems to care,” Chris told us.
“We are past feeling angry. It is past the time of filling out reports - we need definite action.
“It is like banging your head against a brick wall.”
Following the August 2020 flood, a flood investigation report was commissioned by North Northamptonshire Council as the lead local flood authority, but it took almost more than 18 months to be completed and published.
Written by David Smith Associates, it concluded that:
The flooding of Waverley Road, Kettering was caused by intense heavy rainfall over a relatively short period of time.
Surface water drainage systems across the catchment were unable to collect and convey rainwater effectively. This led to excess surface water flowing over ground following localised ground levels to low points around properties.
The East Brook culvert in Waverley Road surcharged and flooded out at the point where the culvert reduces in cross sectional area. This was repeated to the East Brook culvert at the rear of the property where the two legs of the East Brook culvert converge and again reduce in cross-sectional area. Hence flow capacity at both these points is exceeded resulting in the respective manholes surcharging and flooding out at these points.
The gully connection from the Rugby Club was not connected to a suitable discharge system and hence was unable to convey surface water effectively. The surcharge flooding from the East Brook manhole at the Rugby Club entrance far exceeded the system capacity, overwhelmed the surface water drainage and subsequently overtopped the dropped kerbs and footpath.
Some localised drainage systems were noted to require maintenance and cleansing prior to the flooding incident. This would limit the ability for surface water to be collected into the buried drainage systems.
It also found that:
There are no reports or evidence of the existence of any community or property level resilience facilities in the area that could have been deployed to reduce surface water flood risk.
The report recommended that the council should work with other organisations, such as the water authority to manage surface water better, carry out investigations into the existing drainage systems and determine legal responsibilities and also work with its own emergency planning department to support the local community to draw up a flood plan and appoint local flood wardens.
Cllr Anne Lee, who represents the ward and who went along at midnight on Tuesday night to help residents, said:
“There needs to be a plan in place. I was told a few months ago that the council does not have its own flood officers.
“The flooding in Waverley Road could have been predicted. The August 2020 flooding was only recently reported on and very little action has been taken.”
Green Party councillor Dez Dell lives in the street and filmed the flooding last night after joining neighbours to help those affected. He now wants relevant parties to get together to stop such an event happening again.
Watch his video here
“This is going to happen more and more due to climate change.
“The people who live in those streets need to be told about it and what they can do and also told what the council is going to do.
“None of that has happened because there are no flood officers.”
Des says the culverts (structures which are used to divert or drain water from the land above) which have been put in over the years by various developers as the town has expanded need to be improved.
The Fosters maintain that Kettering Rugby Club, which sits on higher ground very close to the entrance of the street, is partly to blame for the situation. They want the club to take measures to prevent the water running off their land - which is leased from the council - and into the nearby street.
Bill Linnell from the rugby club told NN Journal he has spent many hours over the past few years emailing people such as Anglian Water and the council to try and get some action.
“It is all caused by the over capacity of the culverts. I’m trying to solve it for everyone else.
“It is frustrating all round - we don't want to be falling out with our neighbours. We are as frustrated as our neighbours and we wish we could work together. We need to be putting pressure on the council to do something.”
A number of questions were put to the council’s media team yesterday concerning its flood staffing capacity and also about the IT failure which prevented affected households from reporting their flooding incidents to the council during the emergency last night.
The authority’s assistant chief executive Guy Holloway responded to us with this statement:
“Information is available on the council’s website that provides guidance to residents on who to contact in the event of a flood. This was made more prominent on the website yesterday evening to help customers.
“A non-emergency form is provided for reporting information that allows records of local flooding to be collated. The website makes it clear that this form should not be used for reporting emergencies. A broken field in the address section of the form meant this could not be submitted. This was brought to our attention early this morning [August 17] and it was resolved at 11.14am today.”
Questions about staffing within the flood management team were not answered. The authority currently has around 900 vacancies across the authority.