Questions asked of authorities' response to Christmas flooding in Long Stratton
Questions are being asked of local authorities into how they responded to the severe flooding in Long Stratton at the end of last year.
On Christmas Eve, almost 50 fire engines were called to the town and other neighbouring villages after heavy rainfall forced people to barricade their homes and businesses with sandbags.
That morning, as fire crews attempted to deal with the flooding, roads were kept open, causing passing motorists to push water towards businesses and residential properties along the A140.
During a scrutiny committee meeting held by Norfolk County Council, Long Stratton councillor Alison Thomas claimed that the decision to keep roads open only exacerbated the problems.
Cllr Thomas, who herself was forced to evacuate her home, said: “Many of the residents who suffered internal flooding would say the motorist took precedence over the home owner, because people were allowed to continue driving, particularly on the A140 and the feeder roads around Long Stratton.”
“They were driving without any care or consideration for the bow wave that they then caused and pushed further water into people’s homes.”
Cllr Thomas was referring to claims, such as those of 83-year-old Long Stratton resident Veronica Black, who was forced to move heavy furniture around her home in The Street on Christmas Eve to offset the damage caused by the flooding.
Speaking on the morning of the flooding, Mrs Black said: “The water was coming into the house and traffic was whizzing by.
“All the carpet is wet. I’ve got a very ill husband, so it’s very miserable.
“I’m moving big antique furniture on my own. If they could stop the traffic, it wouldn’t have been as bad.”
While emergency services have been scrutinised over their management of the situation, questions were also asked of how to prevent future floods.
Mark Ogden, Norfolk County Council’s flood and water manager, said discussions were in place with landowners to ensure ditches and drainage systems were kept clear, which was thought to have contributed to what was the most severe flooding in the town in decades.
During the committee meeting, Mr Ogden said: “This has flushed out a lot of issues and we will be contacting a lot of landowners to remind them of their duties.
“Hopefully, that process will be enough to ensure a lot of maintenance work is being carried out.”
A report into the flooding is expected this summer, and the council is investing an extra £650,000 in its flood and water team, while £1.5 million has been allocated for flood reserves.
The flooding problems in Long Stratton continued into the new year; on January 14, fire crews were called to Barker Family Funeral Services, in The Street, after heavy rainfall caused water to spill into the premises for the second time in less than a month.