NEARLY three weeks on from the floods on Canvey and the island has seen visits from the Environment Secretary, a series of emergency meetings and a Government investigation.

Up to 200 homes were affected when two months’ rainfall fell on Canvey in a few hours on Sunday, July 20.

Mark Walport, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, will lead an independent probe, called for by MP for Castle Point Rebecca Harris and backed by Environment Secretary Liz Truss.

Mrs Harris says there is a need for action, but what do residents want the investigation into flooding to cover?

Residents questioned the island’s ability to cope with storms last August as well as in July and many have demanded an apology from the authorities.

Chris Harvey, 62, of Holbek Road is calling for one central organisation to deal with residents problems after dealing with the Environment Agency, Anglian Water and Essex Highways over the past week.

Mr Harvey said: “One of the major concerns I have is although there has been a reasonable response from the insurers, we are going to be hit on our premiums and excesses for flood damage because this is a man made issue with drains not running and gullies blocked.

“When you get to the issue about the flooding it evolves around the fact there are three or four agencies involved. So when you have a gully problem you call Essex Highways, if it is a drain you call Anglian Water, if it is a pumping station you call the Environment Agency.

Other times it is the town council’s responsibility.

“There is no single point of contact to go to and the agencies just don’t talk to each other.

“What people want is to get hold of a single point of contact that would handle the drainage issue.

“If agencies don’t talk to each other then what is the point. Why am I having to contact all these different people, and some of their responses have been abysmal.”

Fourteen pumps were upgraded in 2007 at a cost of £6million, but following the flooding one station was off for two hours following a lightning strike, with nobody on the island able to fix the problem.

Colin Letchford, chairman of Friends of Concord Beach, lives on Maurice Road, which was closed off to drivers during the flooding.

He said: “From what I understand, on the West Canvey Marshes there is a sluice gate that has not operated for some time and the RSPB deliberatelykeep it closed to keep the wetlands for the birds.

“The gate used to be open to let water drain off Canvey, but by keeping it closed it artificially raises the water table.

“There also needs to be somebody centrally who is looking at the whole potential of the island.

“Even though different organisations manage different parts there needs to be a central person in charge who actually knows what is going on.

“People also need to stop dropping litter in the remaining dykes and drains and blocking them up as all that happens is they then need to be cleared.”

“I hope the investigation will look at all the different aspects and say what went wrong but the big thing is who is going to put it right.”

Claire Sowden’s daughter is undergoing surgery at Broomfield Hospital after falling through an open drain during the floods.

Mrs Sowden, 34, of Hallet Road, Canvey said: “I don’t know what this investigation will achieve.

It’s going to take so long for them to get started. The whole thing is just so confusing and after the investigation, what can they even do?”

James Allwin, 47, of Merlin Court, Canvey said: “I want to know whose fault it is. All this money that has been spent on pumping systems and inquiries, is it just total incompetence?

“Why do residents keep having to take the hit from the insurance companies but nobody will put their hands up and say sorry.

“Canvey is being ignored, it should be national news. We had 200 households flooded but it was hushed up nationally.

“I want someone to stand up and apologise.”

Barbara Johnson, 55 of Holbek Road, said: “If these pumps really are not fit for the purpose of preventing our homes from flooding again in the near future, then it needs to be admitted and rectified immediately.

“My house has stood since 1969 without a problem until the last 12 months.

“One flooding event can be put down to exceptional circumstances, but twice in 12 months really should be setting alarm bells ringing.

“We need a cell of people who live on the island to be able to walk or drive to the pumping stations the moment we have a problem to manually start an override on the pumps, or whatever it is that needs doing to make them actually work.”


Pick up Monday's Echo for a two page floods special.