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Floods ‘worsened by blocked drains’
1:00pm Thursday 5th September 2013 in News
SOME roadside gullies were not cleaned out for almost ten months before heavy rainfall caused severe flooding across south Essex, the Echo has learned.
Roads were turned into rivers after a month’s rain fell in just an hour last Saturday, making it the second wettest day on the Essex coast since records began, in the 1890s.
Information obtained by the Echo from Essex County Council shows two of the worsthit roads on Canvey – Eastern Esplanade and Western Esplanade – last had their gullies cleaned out in November and December 2012.
Angry residents have now called for an urgent review of the council’s maintenance scheme, claiming the flooding would not have been so widespread if the gullies were cleaned at least twice a year.
Meanwhile, drains along the A127, between the Fortune of War and the Fairglen Interchange, which was closed over the weekend of the flooding, were last cleaned 13 months ago. in July 2012.
Maurice Road on Canvey, which was also left submerged, was last cleaned seven months ago in January, and Dovervelt Road, Zelham Drive and Mornington Road were last cleaned six months ago in February.
County Hall only cleans gullies in the county once every year.
Brian Staines, 76, of San Remo Road, Canvey, lost everything on the ground floor of his home which was hit during the floodiing.
He has been campaigning for improvements to the drainage system since 2000.
He said: “The council really needs to conduct a thorough investigation of whether these drains are being cleaned properly, because every time there is heavy rain our road floods.
“We tried to board up the doors of our house, but we couldn’t stop it.
“It is inevitable, with flash flooding like that, that the water would take time to drain away.
“But if the drains were cleaned more often it would certainly not have been as bad as it was.
“I think they should clean them at least twice a year, and they should clean the pipes more thoroughly, rather than just the grills on the street. This was an incident waiting to happen.
“Someone needs to force this authority to do a better job, because this is what we pay our taxes for.”
Keith Barber, of Clinton Road, Canvey, said only cleaning them once a year was putting residents’ safety at risk.
Mr Barber said: “The council used to come out once every three months or so with a device to suck up all the sludge and silt from the pipes and in my seven years on the island I have never seen the pipes cleaned as thoroughly.
I know we need to cut costs, but not when it concerns the safety of residents.
“They should clean the drains at least twice a year, especially on places like Canvey, which is low lying and prone to flooding.
“We need more preventative maintenance rather than reactive maintenance when something goes wrong.
“Not only that, but what is the point in having these £6million pumps, if when there is a bit of debris in them they have to close them off.”
An Essex County Council spokesman said: “There has been ad-hoc cleansing in certain parts of the A127 between between the Fortune of War and Rayleigh Weir throughout the year and, currently, traffic management and logistics are being planned for the full annual inspection and cleaning of this area, which will take place shortly.
“Cleaning of all Essex Highways gullies takes place annually, as outlined in the Essex Highways Maintenance Strategy, and further cleansing takes place in specific areas where we have evidence of a need or if reported as an ongoing concern.
“The volume and frequency of drain cleansing is planned using evidence provided and the budget available.”
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