Haltwhistle residents call for action following latest flood

Residents at The Mart in Haltwhistle have demanded action to improve drainage following the latest in a series of floods

Houses on The Mart in Haltwhistle which were flooded yesterday
Houses on The Mart in Haltwhistle which were flooded yesterday

Residents who have suffered repeated flooding have called for action following the latest incident.

People living at The Mart in Haltwhistle, Northumberland, have demanded something is done about the drainage on their street, which they believed has caused as many as five or six floods or near misses over the last decade.

They were speaking after a flood in which water entered three or four homes on Wednesday afternoon.

Northumberland County Council last night said it was on the brink of releasing the results of an investigation into the tackling of flooding in the area.

In Wednesday’s incident, heavy rain saw water spout from a manhole in a resident’s garden and flood part of the road, with around a foot of water reported.

Water got inside three or four properties, with Home Group, which owns the houses at The Mart, reporting three of its new flood-proof doors had been breached.

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service was called at 3.45pm and sent crews from Hexham, Haltwhistle and Haydon Bridge, which worked to divert the water from houses. They pumped water from houses, delivered sandbags to residents and cleared drains.

Home Group received a call from a resident shortly after 4pm to report heavy rain. It organised for sandbags to be delivered.

Alf Bewick, 76, had small amounts of water enter the front and back of his property through his new doors, although he was able to lay sandbags to stem the flow.

Mr Bewick, who has lived at the Mart almost 15 years, has had two previous six-month spells out of his house following previous floods.

He said: “It came down like a river out the back, ran past my patio windows like a river and that is when it just rises.

“It was not a steady flow, it was a gush.”

Rab McKill, 76, is blind and was out at hospital when the heavy rain fell and returned home at 7pm to find a few inches of water and raw sewage had entered at the front and back of his house, breaching his new flood proof doors.

The carpet at his back door was soaked and Mr McKill was waiting to find out from Northumberland County Council’s environment health team whether it had been contaminated.

He expected to have to move out of the property while the carpet and possibly furniture is replaced if that is the case.

Mr McKill also lost 15 or 16 garden ornaments in the flood.

The resident claimed sandbags were delivered at 9.20pm – once the flooding had passed – and questioned why they had not been brought earlier.

He spent 18 weeks in hospital following a previous flood in June 2012, after contaminated water made him ill.

He was out of his house nearly a year following that incident.

Mr McKill has lived at his house four years and added: “I was going to move out but they said it was never going to happen again.”

Residents called for action to address the drainage, which they deemed to be the source of the repeated floods.

Mr Bewick said: “It is ridiculous. The drains did not take any water away at all.

“We need a bit of modernisation because water did come into the house.”

A county council spokesman said: “The Mart, and surrounding space, forms part of an investigation the council is carrying out into flood alleviation solutions in the wider Haltwhistle area.

“The alleviation of flooding in this region is not straightforward, due to several factors, but it is expected that a report will be produced in the coming weeks which will outline the proposed alleviation strategies for Haltwhistle.”

Carolyn Wood, Home Group customer service manager, said: “We’re very disappointed that three customers’ homes at The Mart have flooded and our priority is to do all we can to help them.

“We invested more than £110,000 last year to install flood-proof doors, airbricks and non-return valves to 21 homes. The vast majority of properties protecting customers from flooding.

“We’ll investigate why three doors failed and we’ll give further training to customers to ensure they know how to operate them correctly to create a watertight seal.”

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