Families still suffering a year after devastating Clapton flood

One year on from the dramatic floods that ravaged 50 homes when a major water mains burst in Upper Clapton, some families are still homeless while others are living in squalid “building sites”.

David Vail, 52, is recovering from prostate cancer but is living in the dark and dusty confines of major renovation works and estimates he spends two hours a day dealing with loss adjustors, insurance companies, workmen, and Thames Water which is responsible for the flood on June 2 last year.

The Vail family’s kitchen was once so stylish that it was featured in the interior decorating magazine BBC Good Homes - but now just wreckage of the room remains in their house in Alconbury Road.

Electronic engineer David said the family have to use basic equipment in his artist wife’s pottery studio in the garden to prepare their meals.

He said: “It’s been a stressful year and it’s so hard on your family life and social life. There’s no compensation for the lost time and inconvenience. Apparently the work will take another 20 weeks to complete.

“We were originally told there was no reason why the house should not be back together by Christmas, but it is taking a year longer than it should.”

Neighbour Marion Nembhard, 74, has been without the use of her basement which was used as a flat by her grandaughter and four-year-old great grandaughter. The pair are now living in temporary accommodation in Islington.

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“It hasn’t been easy,” Marion said, “but I plod along. The workers do a bit then go away. It’s been really stressful and even though it’s been a year the flat still looks like a building site. When I have questions about something nobody gets back to me.”

Cllr Alex Russell, who represents Hackney Downs ward, held a public meeting with Thames Water representatives and has been working with flood victims and writing to the company in attempt to speed up the process.

“It shouldn’t have taken this long - it’s extraordinary,” she told the Gazette. “It’s devastating for people to be living like this for so long, especially as it doesn’t look like it will be sorted any time soon.

“The possibility that something like this could happen again is a concern as well.”

A Thames Water spokesman said he was unable to comment on individual cases, but added: “Although the majority of claims arising form this incident have been settled, we are mindful of the time it has taken to conclude claims for all our customers.

“Our loss adjusters continue to work with the families still out of their homes and we are sorry for the disruption this has caused.”

The flood was caused when a 100-year-old iron pipe burst, and the spokesman said new monitoring technology is being used, along with a moderated water flow through the pipe, in an attempt to prevent another incident.