Upper Street flooding: Thames Water reveals 10 victims still haven’t returned home

PUBLISHED: 09:12 19 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:59 06 July 2017

Devastation caused by the flooding in Upper Street.

Devastation caused by the flooding in Upper Street.

Paul Wood

Ten people whose homes were devastated by the Upper Street flooding at the start of December are still living out of a hotel.

Flooding in Upper Street this morning. Picture: London Fire BrigadeFlooding in Upper Street this morning. Picture: London Fire Brigade

A Thames Water representative made the revelation at a heated town hall meeting last night.

The water company and TfL were in town to face a grilling from councillors over their response to the two floods last month in Upper Street and Northwold Road, Stoke Newington.

Victims whose homes were completely destroyed by the floodwater packed out the room too, but were told from the off they wouldn’t be able to quiz the officials until separate meetings in February.

Their elected officials did a decent job in picking up the baton, though, and it was Thames Water that was very much the villain of the piece.

Devastation caused by the flooding in Upper Street.Devastation caused by the flooding in Upper Street.

The reps managed to skirt around the issue of whether bursting pipes was an increasing problem in the capital by not having any statistics to hand – except that there had been 20 major incidents in the last year.

But that didn’t stop councillors accusing the privatised firm of not dipping into its pockets for pipe maintenance.

“It’s bloody disgusting,” said deputy mayor Cllr Una O’Halloran. “With all the money Thames Water are making we shouldn’t have to be having these conversations. We know the pipes are old but you haven’t been doing your job.

“You’ve ruined a lot of people’s lives. Before Christmas no one had been compensated for anything. Shame on you.”

Devastation caused by the flooding in Upper Street.Devastation caused by the flooding in Upper Street.

It was then revealed Thames Water are dealing with 104 insurance claims over the Upper Street flooding. Eighteen customers had to be moved into temporary accommodation after their homes were ruined, with only eight having now returned more than five weeks on.

Cllr Nick Wayne, and others, questioned why it took four hours for Thames Water to stop the water from Upper Street gushing into people’s shops and homes. They were told it was a combination of workers not having the benefit of blue lights to speed through the 5.10am traffic, the process of identifying the problem and then the issue of physically turning the ancient valves.

A Thames Water worker then said had there been another flood tonight or tomorrow it would take just as long to stop the water, which did not go down well.

“It’s disgusting to say you couldn’t get there quicker,” said Cllr O’Halloran. “You didn’t even engage to say the Angel was open again – you should have thrown a street party. Businesses lost so much money, and in Camden Passage they will never get it back.

Water poured down Upper Street after a burst water main in December.Water poured down Upper Street after a burst water main in December.

“Spend some money and get more engineers.”

The Thames Water rep said the firm was already in the process of organising an event for the businesses affected, and that they would be able to claim compensation for business loss.

When challenged by the Green party’s Cllr Caroline Russell over whether the huge number of lorries travelling through Upper Street was causing the problems, a Thames Water rep said there had been no overriding factor for the eight bursts since October.

Both TfL and Thames accepted the bursts were unacceptable and apologised for the devastation they had caused.

Thames Water, which takes full responsibility, confirmed a “forensic review” into the bursts would be published in February and that both the Upper Street and Stoke Newington pipes would have a 3in plastic lining installed to prevent it happening again.

London Assembly member for both Hackney and Islington Jennette Arnold was also at the town hall and went in strongly saying “enough is enough”. She will take the matter further at a City Hall scrutiny meeting this morning, which both councils will also attend. They and Thames Water will face questions over the effects of their responses to the flooding, their handling of warning signs, maintenance and investment and other kinds of flood risk, such as rainfall.

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