RESIDENTS in a Basingstoke suburb are facing months of misery, uncertainty and disruption after their homes flooded.
More than 50 people were affected after groundwater levels rose following weeks of rain, resulting in 23 households in Buckskin being evacuated.
Those affected spoke of noticing damp patches on carpets last Saturday, before water seeped through to flood the ground floors.
The flooding affected various areas including Antrim Close, Blackdown Close, Holyrood Court and Sperrin Close. Groundwater also filled up sewer drains, leading to human waste mixing with floodwater.
Staff from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council evacuated homes as the floodwater rose over last weekend, with families relocated to nearby hotels and bed-and-breakfast establishments.
Other measures included:
The use of four tankers to suck up floodwater before emptying the tanks at the Chineham sewage treatment works
A co-ordination centre at The Ridgeway Centre was set up with evening briefings for residents
Sandbags were distributed for homes at risk of flooding
Portable toilets were set up for residents experiencing a loss of water pressure
Labour borough councillor Paul Harvey, who was among several local councillors to help out over the weekend, said he was “very disappointed” at the lack of action from Thames Water.
He said: “The borough council teams have been fantastic, working to help residents, but Thames Water turned up and said there was nothing they could do. It’s very disappointing.”
Conservative Buckskin councillor Robert Taylor praised the resilience of residents, hailing their “British spirit”.
Cllr Clive Sanders, leader of Basingstoke and Deane Bor-ough Council, said the tankers will continue the fight to combat the rising groundwater levels for as long as necessary. He told The Gazette: “We will do whatever we can, and will stay for as long as we need to. I think it is very sad for the people concerned. It is a horrible thing to happen to your house and possessions.”
Of the 23 homes evacuated, 10 are owned by Sovereign Housing Association. Roy Probert, public relations manager at Sovereign, said it was too early to say how much it will cost to repair the damaged homes.
He said: “We are keeping tabs on a few other homes in Holyrood Court and Bodmin Close, working really closely with the borough council, and talking to residents whose homes are at risk.”
Some residents affected by the flooding told The Gazette that they were annoyed not to hear from Thames Water, which runs the sewer system in Buckskin.
On Monday, human waste and soiled nappies could be seen coming out of drains and mixing with the floodwater in Sperrin Close.
Cllr Sanders added: “We have been extremely frustrated with the response we have had from Thames Water. Clearly, the system does not work when you get exceptional weather like this. What we need to do to prevent it in the future is something we are going to have to look at.”
Stuart White, media manager for Thames Water, said: “We are responsible for keeping the sewers moving but we are not responsible for rising floodwater and groundwater.
“What has happened here is that flooded water and groundwater is going into the sewers and then they get full of flood water and the sewage comes up. There’s not a lot we can do until the groundwater level falls below the level of the sewers.”
On Tuesday, Basingstoke MP Maria Miller visited Buckskin, having returned from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where she has been representing the Government in her role as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
She was told that more homes are at risk of flooding, with a month’s rain forecast for the next few days.
Mrs Miller said: “The priority right now is to ensure that those people affected by the flooding have somewhere to move to and that everything is done to support them at this very difficult time.”
Today is meant to remain mostly dry with the occasional shower, but the Met Office predicts more heavy rain for Basingstoke on Friday night and Saturday morning.