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Stoke Newington flooding: Traders told Thames Water about leaking pipe a week before it burst

PUBLISHED: 16:22 12 December 2016 | UPDATED: 17:36 12 December 2016

The road was flooded yesterday afternoon but the pipe had been leaking all week. Picture: Hackney Police.

The road was flooded yesterday afternoon but the pipe had been leaking all week. Picture: Hackney Police.

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Furious business owners unable to open their shops in Stoke Newington after yesterday's flooding say they reported the leaking pipe a week ago.

The view from the Cecylia's salon yesterday afternoon.The view from the Cecylia's salon yesterday afternoon.

Shops and homes in Northwold Road were under three feet of water for much of yesterday after a 30in pipe ruptured at 12.30pm. Hundreds of people were forced out of their flats and traders have literally been left in the dark, with no idea when they will be able to open again due to the electrical damage in their basements.

They face losing out on vital Christmas trade, but many have told the Gazette the most annoying thing about it is they had told Thames Water about a constant stream of water coming from the same area several times last week.

“It was leaking for a week,” said Cecylia Sidor, whose beauty salon Ginger Black was hit badly. “Thames Water came to protect the area but they didn’t stop it. Then it got worse and worse. They were walking around on Saturday checking it, and then they left.

“I knew something like this would happen and I was getting more and more worried.

Northwold Road flooded in 2011

A pipe burst at the other end of Northwold Road in 2011, with 20 homes between Fountayne Road and Durlston Road evacuated.

That pipe was also 30in in size. The Gazette has asked Thames Water if there is any connection.

“I’ve got no idea when I can open again, they need to check the electrics, which have been affected. The sunbeds in the basement were filled with water. They cost between £5,000 and £7,000 each.

“This is the last thing I need at Christmas. We will lose our income.”

Cecylia’s landlord Leo Aziz, who also owns four other businesses on the water-damaged stretch of the road, said: “I saw them here on Thursday and thought they were going to fix it but I was back on Saturday and it was happening again.

“I don’t know if they could have fixed it before but if they couldn’t how are they going to do it now? It doesn’t sound right.”

A birdseye view of the flood. Picture: Sarah Nurse.A birdseye view of the flood. Picture: Sarah Nurse.

Thames Water said they had checked a number of smaller pipes in Northwold Road and after switching off and testing valves had found the leak on Thursday night.

A spokeswoman said: “Repairing the larger pipe required careful planning, local authority permission to do the major work, and tweaks to our network to ensure we didn’t impact customer supply.

“We’re very frustrated we hadn’t been able to start that work before Sunday’s burst.”

Workers were on site to repair the pipe today and Northwold Road is expected to remain closed for a few more days.

People were evacuated from their homes by medics who brought their dinghys. Picture: @LAS_HART.People were evacuated from their homes by medics who brought their dinghys. Picture: @LAS_HART.

Alex Chinhirum has had restaurant Thai Cafe for 30 years but said he’d never seen anything like this happen.

Speaking to the Gazette in the basement of his business, he said: “All the fridges are ruined, and all the stuff inside. We’re not happy.

“I phoned them a few times because it was flooding on Thursday and Friday.”

A worker in Dry Cleaning and Tailors, on the corner of Gibson Gardens, said she had also reported the leak a week before it burst.

People were evacuated from their homes by the emergency services who brought their dinghys. Picture: @LAS_HART.People were evacuated from their homes by the emergency services who brought their dinghys. Picture: @LAS_HART.

“There was a tiny little stream,” said the woman, who did not want to be named. “They came on Thursday or Friday and put two sandbags down.

“I’m very annoyed and upset. All the equipment in our basement is soaking wet so I can’t do any alterations. No customers clothes were damaged but we have no electricity.”

The water was waist high on the cobbles of Gibson Gardens, though homes were said to have escaped flooding.

Joe Trapido was getting ready to go out when he looked outside from his top-floor window.

Cecylia's basement, where her sunbeds are, was filled with water.Cecylia's basement, where her sunbeds are, was filled with water.

“Walking past all week I’ve seen a trickle,” he said. “They put up a little barricade but as far as anyone could tell they did nothing.

“We were about to go to the cafe yesterday and I looked out the window and thought ‘oh my god’.”

Emma Chauncey lives in the block of flats closer to the pipe and had to leave her home yesterday.

“It’s mad that people were aware of it all week yet nothing was done,” she said. “We assumed something was being done because they’d been here.”

Alex points out how high the water was in his basement. All of his fridges and units were ruined.Alex points out how high the water was in his basement. All of his fridges and units were ruined.

About 20 properties were flooded in total, with 150 evacuated. Hackney Council opened Stoke Newington Town Hall for people unable to get home.

The flood was London’s third in six days caused by a burst main, after incidents in Upper Street on Monday and Blackheath on Saturday. Thames Water is facing a bill of tens of millions of pounds to repair the damage caused to homes and businesses across the areas.

Director Bob Collington said: “It has been an extremely difficult week and, having visited and spoken to a number of those impacted, I am personally devastated for those customers who have suffered flooding so close to Christmas.

“We are doing everything we can to help them and will make sure they are not left out of pocket for what has happened.”

Water was raised before the pipe burst. This picture was taken at 11.30am yesterday. The pipe burst at 12.30pm.Water was raised before the pipe burst. This picture was taken at 11.30am yesterday. The pipe burst at 12.30pm.

The pipe in Northwold Road was installed in 1868, and Mr Collington added the flooding of the past week was a reminder the company needs to invest in the “sometimes fragile network”.

He said a full investigation into what happened was taking place, and reducing the chance of it happening again was a “top priority”.

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