Five feet high and rising: Clapton flats’ flood fears as Thames Water chiefs fail to stem torrent
PUBLISHED: 14:14 03 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:17 03 October 2018
A massive flood is still rising 12 hours after a water main burst off Lea Bridge Road, with Thames Water accused of appearing clueless about how to stem the flow of water.
People are being pulled out through the windows of flats by firefighters into dinghies, and cars in Waterworks Lane are submerged in five foot of water.
Neighbours heard a bang as a Victorian cast iron water pipe exploded next to the Princess of Wales pub last night at 10pm, leaving a huge hole that quickly filled up with water.
But although some of the deluge is cascading into the canal, and firemen are using pumps to suck it up, water levels are still rising.
Matt, who lives in one of 72 flats at Paradise Park where an underground car park is completely flooded, told the Gazette: “A fireman just told me the water levels are accelerating, and it could get very serious indeed. They have risen two and a half inches in the last 45 minutes.
“I’m very frustrated we are seemingly no further on than at 11pm last night. Thames Water keeps saying ‘we are looking at how to turn it off’, but I’d like to see the water level stop rising. If they can’t do anything in the next 12 hours I’m not convinced they can do anything period.
“They said the valves aren’t working because the gears are jammed and some are concreted over, so the things that should have stopped it don’t work and they are looking at more drastic solutions. It could breach the ground floor flats.”
Electricity bosses are on standby in case water gets any closer to an electricity sub-station by the former Old Ship pub.
Andrew Northwood was alerted to the flood by neighbours in Paradise Park at 3am this morning, and went back to bed after he moved his car out of the underground car park.
“When I woke up this morning I expected the flow to have stopped and the water level to have gone down but instead it’s gone up by another five feet,” he said.
“They didn’t appear to have a solution last night and it’s still rising now. They brought in these high power pumps this morning, but why didn’t they bring them in last night?
“They say it will be at least a week until we can think about getting back into our flats, and in the foreseeable future we have no drainage, no heating and no water.
“Thames Water employ an agency which would find us hotel accommodation, but they are saying they have yet to make a decision - to us it’s evident it’s necessary.”
One of the Thames Water workers told the Gazette: “We don’t know what valves we can get to, and which ones we can’t get to, so it’s a process of elimination.
“We have to turn the water off, but there are a lot of valves, and some of them are underwater, so we need to go back further.
“At the start there probably would have been five or six valves to shut, but now it’ll be more because we can’t get to them.”
Firefighters were alerted just before 9am this morning, and there were 40 fire fighters at the scene by lunchtime.
Kriss Lee, whose home overlooks the flooding, said he thought they were fighting a losing battle.
“They are trying to suck the water out through a 6in pipe. The burst pipe is 36in.
“It’s not quite reached my door yet but it will.”
A Thames Water spokesperson said they were sorry for the disruption. “Our specialist team of customer reps, ambassadors and loss adjustors are in the area to support our customers at what we know will be a difficult time for those affected by the flooding,” they added.
“Our top priority will be minimising disruption for them and getting things back to normal as soon as we possibly can.
“Our engineers have been working hard since the early hours to stop the water flowing from the pipe and in the meantime we’re extremely grateful for efforts of the fire service to help pump water away from properties.”
Leabridge’s Cllr Ian Rathbone, said: “Once again, residents and those travelling through Lea Bridge Road have had their lives disrupted by Thames Water.
“In the last few years they have caused many months of misery and problems in the Lea Bridge Road area because they did not seem to be able to understand their own pipes, where they were or how to replace them.”