Calls for action after flooding devastates homes in Solihull

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Storms over the Bank Holiday weekend left a trail of destruction around Solihull, with calls for a thorough investigation into the flooding problems experienced across the borough.

Rising water turned roads to rivers and swept into people’s homes after a month’s worth of rain fell during the course of an hour on Sunday afternoon.

Residents in Dickens Heath, Cheswick Green and Nethercote Gardens in Shirley, bore the brunt of the deluge – with some homeowners left facing weeks of disruption ahead.

In a statement Solihull Council confirmed officers were being dispatched to knock on the doors in communities which had been affected and help them “return to normality”.

But with more wet weather expected, some residents have raised concerns that over development in certain areas has increased the risk of flooding and dismissed suggestions that the conditions were “unprecedented”, pointing to the floods which hit the borough in both 2007 and 2012.

Cllr Ken Hawkins (Con, Blythe) has spent the past few days visiting homes that have been affected. He said it was essential that the local authority, Severn Trent, the Environment Agency and other organisations discussed what had happened.

“It’s not just a case of fobbing residents off [we need] to make sure that we find out the reason, find out exactly what happened,” he said.

“We have all experienced a leak or something like that, but thank goodness I have never experienced flood water coming into the house … having seen it first hand, walking through a block of apartments [that had flooded] and the stench in there…

“One guy was close to tears because he is doing a post graduate course and all his work on the coffee table had been completely soiled. It’s things like that you see and it’s just heart-breaking.”

While he said he wasn’t convinced by claims that new housing developments were to blame, he said that residents’ fears were “understandable” and that it was important that they were given reassurance, especially with plans to build further homes on the horizon.

In a statement on Facebook, Dickens Heath Parish Council said it had “watched with horror” as water swept through the village.

“We need to be reassured that better flood defences are put in place for the future, and the parish council have requested a meeting to discuss this,” it said.

Among the properties affected was Cornwood House, in Cornwood Lane, where the underground car park was flooded and the building’s water pumps suffered “irreperable damage”.

Those living in the building’s 97 apartments will have to stay in alternative accommodation until a replacement is fitted.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said she had been frustrated by the “uncertainty” and the wait for news about where she would be moved to.

A spokesperson for property manager FirstPort Property Services said: “No apartments have been damaged, but as a result of flooding of the underground car park the building is without water supply.

“Our team has been working around the clock to resolve the issues. We have coordinated contractors to undertake essential works and are working to find temporary housing for those residents not already accommodated in local hotels.

“We have also reached out to local businesses who have kindly provided bottled water, shower facilities and discounted meals.”

The company said it was originally advised by its supplier that replacement parts for the pumps could take up to four weeks to source, but it described the timeframe as “not acceptable” and said it had worked hard to find an alternative supplier in order to speed up the repairs.

Speaking following the flooding, Cllr Bob Sleigh, Leader of Solihull Council, said that the authority would investigate the causes of problems and urged residents to provide pictures and videos to assist with enquiries.

“My sympathies go out to those who were flooded last weekend, as I know … it is a traumatic life event,” he said.

“Many affected will have lost furniture, valuables and irreplaceable items.

“As part of our the door knocking we are also making sure people are OK in themselves; asking if there is any support we can provide, especially to any residents who are vulnerable and those who don’t have wider family networks to help them out.

“The storms at the weekend were unprecedented, a one in a 100 year + occurrence. The BBC weather team reported an average May’s total rainfall came down in one hour, so it’s not surprising some areas that don’t usually experience flooding did so on Sunday. Similarly, those areas prone to flooding were taken aback by the speed of the downpour turning to flood water.”

During Sunday’s torrent, emergency services also reported a landslip blocking a road, near to Earlswood Lakes, while the subway leading to Tudor Grange Park was submerged. A number of events, including a litter pick in Elmdon Park, were cancelled because of the adverse conditions.

Information about flooding can be sent to Solihull Council by emailing drainage@solihull.gov.uk. Further details of the support available are on the SMBC website: http://www.solihull.gov.uk/news/ArtMID/820/ArticleID/2111/Flooding-update and http://www.solihull.gov.uk/Resident/Parking-travel-roads/street-care/drainage

Read more: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/calls-action-after-flooding-devastates-14732758