The clean-up from Monday evening’s flash floods continues in Long Bennington, with some residents facing damage costing thousands of pounds, and the prospect of having to move out for months.
Mike Garner has lived in his home on Acklands Lane for 40 years, and said he felt ‘sick’ on returning to his property and finding it flooded.
“I wasn’t at home at the time but my neighbour called me telling me to get back,” he said. “I arrived at about 10pm and the water was already over my wellies. I felt sick.”
Two days on Mr Garner is still pumping water out of his property, with help from his brother Gerry who has travelled over from Nottingham to support him. “I’m stressed,” said Mr Garner. “We’re trying to get the water out but it’s everywhere in all the carpets and if we can’t save that it will cost thousands.
“The water has just flown in. We’ve had it before but not like this. Never in 40 years.”
In the wake of the storm, the villagers have rallied round to help one another. “My neighbour helped lifting stuff upstairs, and he was affected too,” added Mike.
There was also praise for the fire service. Ann Hays, a fellow Acklands Lane resident for 14 years said firefighters had been knocking on doors checking everyone was OK, while neighbour Jean Higgs added: “They were terrific, they came out so quickly. And they were here yesterday and this morning.” Both homeowners saw water flood into their garages, but were relieved that it didn’t come above their doorsteps.
A team from Lincolnshire County Council’s highways maintenance also remained on the scene today pumping water out from ditches, which Mr Garner identified as one of the issues highlighting that they needed to be cleaned out.
For one couple, who have lived in the same house on Welbourne’s Lane for 32 years, the flood has been devastating. They have been forced to move out to their daughter’s home in Cottam, Nottinghamshire and told it is unlikely they will be able to return home until Christmas.
“The fireman told me he had never seen anything like it,” said the lady who lives there, aged 79, who preferred not to be named. “I was rushing back and forth with towels trying to stop it, even using my new ones, but there was nothing we could do. It even came down through the fireplace.”
Her husband, aged 81, showed how in their downstairs bathroom water was still coming out of the carpet when they stepped on it, and rainwater had even filled their corner bath tub.
Next door to them the electricity went out, leaving the house without full power even today. Its owner who also wished to remain anonymous said: “It’s horrible, but it’s been much worse for my neighbours.” She also praised the community spirit which saw two young passers-by check on her and lend a mobile phone charger when hers was running out. Like all residents spoken to by the Journal, she also commented on issues with the drainage system.
“There is definitely a problem with the drains not being able to cope. I moved here three years ago and there was one incident before that was particularly bad, although not as bad as this. I was hoping after the last time something would have been done.”
Another Welbourne’s Lane homeowner of 40 years said: “It keeps happening, and they are supposed to have sorted it.” She had been visiting a friend when the storm broke, and the flooding was so bad she couldn’t get back to her house. In the end she had to stay overnight at her friend’s, before returning in the morning. “It’s gone in the garage and I’m still finding water now,” she added.
Many highlighted the damage at The Royal Oak pub, and expressed concern about plans to build further housing behind it. “The more houses the more pressure on the drainage system, and it already can’t cope,” added Mr Garner.
In response an Anglian Water spokesperson said: “The storm which hit the Grantham area on Monday night unfortunately caused some surface water flooding in Long Bennington. We know how unpleasant flooding is and to help we sent our contractors out to assist customers with clean-ups.
“We are checking our pipes and equipment, but the most likely cause of flooding on this occasion was the sheer intensity of this storm, rather than any one system issue.
“The drainage network is complex and made up of lots of different systems maintained by different partner agencies who we work closely with, including the highways authority, the Environment Agency, local councils and also privately owned pipework.”
Paul Brookes, flood risk manager for Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We are aware of surface water flooding in the Long Bennington, Grantham and Barkston areas Monday evening and in some cases water did enter residents property.
“The county council, as the Lead Local Flood Authority for Lincolnshire, will carry out an investigation to identify why this happened and if anything can be done to reduce the risk of flooding in the future.
“We do rely on people letting us know about any incidents so if this has or does happen to you, please call us on 01522 782070, or 01522 782082 outside of normal office hours.
“If the flooding is life-threatening please call 999 immediately.”
The county council was supported by the Environment Agency, whose team leader Manfai Tang said: “Monday’s flooding in Grantham was the result of sudden, localised heavy rainfall, falling over a short space of time which caused wide surface water flooding and caused river levels to increase.
“We had operatives in the area working to reduce the risk of flooding from the river by clearing debris-screens and removing blockages to keep water flowing freely. This routine work prevented some properties from flooding.
“Rainfall, such as that we experienced on Monday night, can quickly sweep debris and litter from further up the channel, which can accumulate in certain locations and lead to blockages to the flow of water. We also found debris, including household waste and two duvets, which had been dumped in the river, exacerbating the situation. There was some flooding from the river as a result.
“We would like to send a strong message to the public that throwing rubbish into rivers is not only illegal but can ultimately lead to flooding to people’s homes. If anyone spots large items in a river that may pose a flood risk, please call the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.”
South Kesteven District Council have also been helping with the clean-up in the area. An SKDC spokesperson added: “We are assisting all householders in South Kesteven with any enquiries they have on localised flooding, signposting them to other authorities where relevant.
“The council attended Coxmoor Close and Withambrook Park in Grantham to help residents clear surface water away from their properties.
“There were also issues with a small number of leaking roofs at our properties in Grantham that were resolved and we delivered sandbags to one property in Shelley Avenue.”