Willows flood victims share stories to build action plan

Chris Durand inside his flooded Miles End house

Chris Durand inside his flooded Miles End house

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Victims of the Willows flood have retold their stories to help make sure there is not a repeat of ‘ghastly’ water damage in the future.

In February last year, 79 homes and many cars on the estate were badly damaged when Stoke Brook burst its banks after heavy rainfall.

Flooding at Brotheridge Court in February last year

Flooding at Brotheridge Court in February last year

A culvert blockage under Oxford Road has been identified as causing backwash up gully drains in the estate.

But families’ experiences have been shared with the Transport Environment and Communities Select Committee as part of an inquiry.

Willows resident Lee Buckingham said: “Our frustration was there was no point of contact, no action plan in place and there was a lack of support from the agencies.

“We need it in writing – we need to know who is responsible for X, Y and Z.”

Flooding in Miles End

Flooding in Miles End

The evidence is now being digested and it will be put to Bucks County Council at cabinet in December so an action plan can be put together.

With the help of a £340,000 government grant, an emergency flood defence barrier and a debris-catching screen has now been installed.

Six mobile pumps are also on standby at the county council’s nearby Griffin Lane depot.

But the committee is keen to improve communication channels and ‘pre-flood alerts’ in the event of further flooding in Aylesbury.

Martin Tett, Lee Buckingham and Steven Lambert visit the site

Martin Tett, Lee Buckingham and Steven Lambert visit the site

Patricia Birchley, chairman of the committee, said her ‘heart went out’ to victims during what was ‘ghastly events’ but described their presentation as ‘fantastic’.

She said: “If the agencies had been on to it, we would have saved a lot of flooding.

“They need to work together to do better and it’s important that it’s not just lessons learned but lessons remembered. It’s very easy to lose that knowledge.

“We sincerely hope that county council do justice to what we have been told.

“There were so many different causes and so many different land owners. It was really very complex for a whole variety of reasons.

“But we shall interrogate the agencies and be very mindful of all that residents have said.”

Steven Lambert, county councillor for Aylesbury West and chairman of the Willows steering group, described the flooding as ‘unprecedented’. With homes filling up, he raced to the estate to knock on people’s doors and begin the clean up operation.

Mr Lambert said: “Residents kept flagging up that there was a problem but we couldn’t channel the alerts properly.”

But he added that families have now set up a ‘telephone tree’ to cascade information.