ANGRY residents have told the Environment Agency to come clean over how many Canvey pumping stations were out of action during last Sunday’s storm.
As many as 200 homes were hit by flooding, which turned roads into rivers and caused thousands of pounds in damage.
Residents claim problems with Canvey’s pumping stations, and the Environment Agency’s failure to repair them quickly enough, condemned many homes and businesses to greater damage.
Initially, the Environmental Agency said the island’s 13 pumps were off for only 12 minutes after a power cut caused by lightning.
However, it has finally admitted the station at Croppenburg, off Orrmo Road, was off for two hours.
Now residents claim they have evidence the pumping station was not working for much longer – and that the pumps at May Avenue were also off for longer than 12 minutes.
The pumps are designed to move water that settles within the basin of the island out over the seawall.
The pumps are meant to be operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are automatically triggered by a rise in water levels Barbara Johnson, 55, of Holbeck Road said: “When we went to the seawall at 6.30pm on Sunday to Croppenburg, the Environment Agency had just got there.
“Engineers explained they had just come from MayAvenue. After Croppenburg, they went to the one at St Anne’s.
“Someone is going to have to sue them. It’s the only way we are going to get the truth. The engineers said to us there were only ten engineers in the whole of Essex on call from the Environment Agency.
“They said they had come from South Woodham and Chelmsford.
The traffic was completely gridlocked and they couldn’t get on the island.
“We only moved back in January after the last flooding. I find it totally unacceptable.”
Retired engineer and neighbour Chris Harvey, 62, of Holbeck Road, went to the stations at Croppenburg and May Avenue during the storm to see what was going on. He said: “The major pumping station at Croppenburg was out for four hours and others which needed to be restarted after an earlier power failure were also out for as long.
“In addition, one pump was already under repair at the time of the flood. Canveywas, in effect, left with very little pumping capacity – and not for the first time.”
“They had to reset pumps in MayAvenue and they had to come on to the island to reset the Leigh Beck pumps.
“I know the pumps were not working after the power outage.
“It takes residents to raise the alarm to get a man from God knows where to push a reset button.
All the while, hundreds of homeowners look on at the water getting higher and higher.”
Mr Harvey called Anglian Water at about 2pm that day, telling them the pumps were not working.
He said: “They called back at around 3pm and confirmed that.
They said the Environment Agency told them the pumps were not running.”
The Environment Agency said: “We are currently investigating the event in detail and will be submitting our report to Essex County Council.”