A severe storm on Christmas Eve caused damage to the roof of Megan Cunningham and Chris Tomkins’, flat, in Goring Road, Goring, just one month after the birth of their first child – Jessica.
The damage quickly worsened and the flat’s ceiling deteriorated, forcing the family to find temporary accommodation. The couple spent January living with Megan’s parents in Horsham, before moving back to a flat in Worthing where they still remain, nearly six months later.
Megan, 23, said: “It’s been hard. Having a baby is an amazing, exciting thing and then we have had this stress. We are living somewhere that isn’t our home and we are not happy. We are not comfortable. Jessica’s never been in her nursery we made for her, so it’s hard.”
On January 4, the ceiling panels in the couple’s living room started to sag under the weight of the water. The paint stretched and holes formed in the ceiling.
Megan said: “We had no choice but to leave our home with our newborn baby. My parents’ house was not big enough for four adults and a baby, and the amount of stuff we had to bring.
“The flat smelled of damp and it was a very serious concern the ceiling was going to fall down. It was a place I was not prepared to let my baby stay in.”
The move meant Chris had a 50-mile return journey to work instead of his usual six- mile journey and the couple continued to make mortgage payments on the property. However, the insurance company has paid the rent for their temporary flat up until August.
Megan said: “I think we will be petrified every time it rains for a while. Every time it has rained the roof leaks. Because it hasn’t been entirely replaced we think it will keep doing it.”
A spokesman for Countrywide Estate Management said the original problem had been dealt with as ‘quickly’ and ‘efficiently’ as possible but it had been ‘hampered by asbestos issues’ that needed to be resolved before the area of damaged roof was replaced.
The spokesman said: “Subsequently, a new issue with another area of the roof, not damaged by the storms, has arisen which we are now looking to address.
“We are continuing to work with the family to ensure the problem is resolved and the family is able to return to their home as soon as possible.”