DOZENS of North Tynesiders forced out of their homes by June’s flash floods have been told they are unlikely to be able to move back in until after Christmas.
People living in Preston Village organised a meeting with Northumbrian Water officials on Tuesday to try to establish why they were affected so badly by flooding on Thursday, June 28, and what is being done to try to stop it happening again.
Dozens of homes were left partially under water after three months’ worth of rain fell in an hour, with streets becoming fast-flowing rivers.
Among the streets worst affected were North Road and Pennyfine Close.
A total of 65 residents attended the meeting on Tuesday night – organised by Preston Residents’ Association and held at Pearey House in the village – along with ward councillors David Sarin and Cath Davis.
Representatives from Northumbrian Water were on hand to talk about work they had done in the village, including installing water storage tanks under the fields at North Shields Rugby Club three years ago.
After the meeting, some residents revealed they will not be able to spend Christmas in their own homes as their houses aren’t dry enough yet and more repair work is needed, forcing them to remain in temporary accommodation until then and possibly into next year.
Association secretary Esther Pearson could only look on in horror in June as her home in North Road flooded, and she is still in discussions with her insurance company over who will carry out the repair work.
“I’m still in temporary accommodation,” she said. “This is now the 13th week. I spent five weeks in a hotel before they found me this accommodation.
“I can’t have my dog with me, so it’s in kennels.
“No one who was flooded is back in their home yet, but some homes are a little bit further forward than others when it comes to getting back in their homes.
“The majority of people will be out until after Christmas.
“I’ve got a few weeks until the repairs are started, and they could last between ten and 14 weeks, so it’s going to be way after Christmas until I can move back in.”
A spokesperson for Northumbrian Water said: “We recognise the distress that flooding causes and are committed to investigating it and undertaking improvements to the sewage system wherever possible.
“The storage tanks were installed to reduce the risk of flooding to 64 properties, but on June 28, that tank overflowed and at least one manhole cover was blown off by the pressure that built up.
“The storms of June 28 were way in excess of the design criteria of the alleviation scheme. The tanks wouldn’t have been expected to cope under those conditions.
“Had the flood alleviation scheme not been installed, many more properties would have flooded on that day.
“Inspections and investigations have shown the scheme was operating as it was designed to.
“We are doing what we can with a substantial amount of success. We are not underestimating the distress and impact that customers whose homes do flood have had.
“We are not complacent. We are working on it constantly and spending huge amounts of money to try and protect properties better.
“When we’re getting the deluge of the frequency we’ve seen in recent times, then it’s going to be a huge challenge to be able to protect all the homes all the time.”
n Floods force evacuation of 35 homes – Page 4