‘Devastation’ at flooded Heathfield homes following ‘sudden downpour’

Heathfield residents have been left with flood damage after a downpour resulted in water rushing into their homes and gardens.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 12:30 pm

Around midday on Sunday July 25 there was a ‘big downpour’ according to Jenny Montgomery, who has lived in Wren Close for 26 years.

Jenny said the houses have a small stream and a culvert – a tunnel carrying the stream water underground – at the back of them.

She said the amount of rain that fell meant the culvert got blocked and water was forced into 26 homes and gardens.

Photo from Mick and Pippa Cousens SUS-210729-115508001

The fire service attended to pump the water away and left residents with a leaflet instructing them on how to deal with flooding, according to Jenny.

Jenny said, “Every garden was full to the brim and then the houses had water coming in. It was sewage water – it was really bad and has caused lots of devastation.”

The culvert is now even more blocked according to Jenny, meaning if there are any more flood warnings the same thing could happen again.

Jenny said, “It’s a ticking time bomb really. It’s horrendous.”

Flooding in Heathfield. Photo from Jenny Montgomery. SUS-210729-090840001

Some residents have moved out due to the smell, Jenny said.

Although she said all the insurance companies are gradually dealing with the claims, the value of the properties will decrease and the cost of insurance in the future will go up.

She said, “It’s devastation all round. We need help and we’re not getting it quickly.”

The MP for Battle and Bexhill Huw Merriman, met with residents on Wednesday July 28.

Residents met with Huw Merriman. SUS-210729-121953001

He said, “On hearing about the serious flooding incident in Wren Close, I went to see the situation for myself and to speak to the residents about the challenges they now face.

“It was truly heartbreaking to see so many of their homes and belongings devastated by the flood water which rose so unexpectedly and so fast during a sudden downpour.

“There is now a huge clear-up job to do and many of their homes will be completely inhabitable for months. I will do all I can to help the residents recover from this flood damage, establish responsibility for the stream and culverts behind their homes which caused the damage and work with all the relevant agencies to ensure every action possible is taken to prevent it happening again.”

East Sussex County Council has since released a statement about the flooding.

Photo from Mick and Pippa Cousens SUS-210729-115529001

The statement said the council’s highways teams have ‘taken action to help prevent homes from further flooding after the efforts to trace the owner of a blocked culvert stalled’.

It said, “Checks carried out by East Sussex Highways revealed the entrance to a culvert at the back of the properties, which is not part of the highway network, had become partly blocked and was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water.

“The search continues to identify those responsible for the culvert, but an owner cannot be traced at this time.

“As any significant rainfall could result in further flooding of people’s homes, East Sussex Highways decided to carry out the work themselves to assist residents. The entrance to the culvert was cleared and checked on Wednesday July 29.”

A spokesperson for the council said, “We know the devastation even a small amount of flood water can cause so to prevent residents having to possibly suffer again, we have cleared the debris from the entrance to the culvert to help prevent further flooding.”

The statement said an inspection and testing was also carried out on East Sussex Highways gullies earlier in the week, which were found to be clear and running freely.

Photo from Hayley Chowdhury. SUS-210729-120502001
Photo from Mick and Pippa Cousens SUS-210729-115519001
Ruined gardens and homes in Wren Close. SUS-210729-122004001
Photo from Rachel Keep SUS-210729-122549001