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Finsbury Park flooding: Homes still without water 24 hours on as mayor criticises Thames Water

PUBLISHED: 08:13 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:28 09 October 2019

Brian Bicknell looks at the debris in the living room of the ground floor flat he shares with his wife Margaret. Picture: Polly Hancock

Brian Bicknell looks at the debris in the living room of the ground floor flat he shares with his wife Margaret. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

As a huge clean-up operation gets underway following the devastating Finsbury Park flooding, some homes are still without water 24 hours on.

Up to 250 properties were hit as water submerged streets in the area, with many basement flats completely ruined and households facing a spell in temporary accommodation.

It was caused by a burst pipe in Queen's Drive, with water gushing down Brownswood Road and beyond to the Kings Crescent Estate. Thousands of homes across Hackney, Haringey and Islington were left without water.

Thames Water engineers are still trying to fix the broken pipe, and took nine hours to turn off three of the seven valves and stop the water levels rising.

As families bedded down in the council's rest centre in the West Reservoir Centre off Green Lanes, work was ongoing to reroute the water supply.

But despite an announcement at 4.30am that it should be back up and running, some people still had none when they woke this morning.

The company has been criticised for its handling of the incident. Jeremy Corbyn said it had questions to answer, while Hackney mayor Phil Glanville said the response had not been good enough and there were "nowhere near" enough water stations set up.

In a letter to Thames Water chiefs Mr Glanville praised fire crews, police, the Salvation Army, his emergency planning staff and the 100 or so Thames Water frontline workers, but wrote: "Resources on the ground to help residents have not been proactive, and updates on social media have been vague and not timely.

"At the time of my visit there was not enough bottled water distributed at the major cordons and the council's own rest centre was without running water and limited temporary supplies, but expecting some from your team."

The mayor also pointed out that in just over three years in his role, he has seen three major floods in the borough - Northwold Road in December 2016 and off Lea Bridge Road a year ago.

"I would have hoped lessons had been learned from these incidents and elsewhere in London," he added. "I would like to know the measures you are putting in place tonight to support residents whose homes have been damaged by water beyond habitation."

Brian and Margaret Bicknell, 74 and 69, were among the displaced people who escaped their soaking basement flat on the Kings Crescent Estate. They say they have lost everything.

Brian, a retired leather company manager, suppressed a sob and said: "It's your whole home. You work all your life, build up a house - and then it's just gone in one swipe.

Fire crews at the scene. Picture: David NathanFire crews at the scene. Picture: David Nathan

"I have a heart condition and have had two knee replacements. My wife's had a stroke [previously]. We have all kinds of serious medication. We have managed to grab some of it but it's waterlogged."

Brian was shuffling along in wet slippers, holding his cat in its carrier above the water.

He added: "We have lived here for 50 years and I have never seen anything like this before. We have nothing. Neighbours came and helped us out because I have trouble climbing stairs. Literally everything is gone: the cupboards, the beds, all the furniture. All the electric in the kitchen went: 'Bang.' At our age, being both pensioners, we are not well off."

Thames Water apologised to those affected, and said they would be helped with compensation claims.

A bedroom ruined by the flooding. Picture: David NathanA bedroom ruined by the flooding. Picture: David Nathan

A spokesperson added: "Our top priority now, having stopped the water escaping and restored supplies back to normal, is to support those impacted by the flooding.

"We're spending over £1million a day on our vast underground network to help reduce leaks, which often lead to these bursts, and working tirelessly to improve our customer service. We're also exploring all modern technology and techniques to gain tighter control of our ageing network."

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