Mother describes 'absolutely devastating' experience of Christmas floodings
- Credit: Sophie Brammer
A mother has described the experience of her March home flooding at Christmas as ‘absolutely devastating’.
Sophie Brammer has been staying in a hotel with her partner Dan Saunders and their seven-year-old son since early January - and the stay has been extended as their home still hasn’t dried out.
What’s made the experience even worse is that they didn’t have contents insurance, and could only save just a handful of items.
Anglian Water has refunded their annual sewerage charges – but has explained the payment “doesn’t imply any acceptance of liability”.
Sophie is also still paying rent to Clarion Housing for the bungalow.
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Speaking from their room at the Oliver Cromwell Hotel, in March, she said: “It has been such an emotional experience, what’s happened is absolutely devastating.
“When I moved into that bungalow, we had nothing and worked hard to furnish our home and make it a lovely place for us to live in.
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“To have lost so much of what we owned, well, it's heart breaking.”
She added: “I work as a carer and last year was a really tough year as I also lost my mum.
“I hadn’t got around to getting contents insurance because I had so much going on, so I’ve learned a very hard lesson.
“When we eventually have somewhere else to live, it will be the first thing I get.”
Sophie’s bungalow was one of four flooded on Morton Avenue the night before Christmas Eve during the downpours. The same properties were affected in the 2014 floods as well.
The night it happened, Dan called her at work to say the garden was flooded but the water level continued to rise, flooding the property.
Sophie said: “Water came in from everywhere. After we moved in, I heard the property had been flooded but work had been carried out so felt reassured it would never happen again.
“Special flood doors were also fitted at the back and front - but water was coming through the floor and even the walls. It all happened so quickly, and the smell of sewerage was awful.
“My little boy was trying to save as many of his books and toys as possible – but we lost a lot of things because the bungalow was on just one level.”
The first fortnight after it flooding, they were able to temporarily stay in a flat at her work.
Since then, Clarion have put the family up in the Oliver Cromwell, and their stay has been extended to February 9.
“Work and family have been so supportive,” Sophie added, “and we’re just trying to make the best of the situation right now.”
It has since emerged a pumping station failed and the drains were silted. The bungalows are also lower than the road, so the water flowed towards them.
Sophie received an email from Anglian Water apologising about the flooding, and to say it has waived their annual sewerage charges of £174.64.
The message, which has been seen by this newspaper, read: “This payment is our way of saying sorry; it does not imply any acceptance of liability for the incident and any damage to your home.”
Sophie added: “To me, that's a really mixed message.
“They’re apologising, refunding us our sewerage bill – but they're not prepared to accept any responsibility for what happened.
“I’m just hoping we will get also reimbursed for rent payments we’ve made while we haven’t been living at the bungalow.”
When it comes to emergency accommodation, a spokesperson for Clarion Housing explained it pays for hotel stays, main meals and out of pocket expenses “as appropriate, while the resident continues to pay their rent as normal”.
He said: “We ensure we prioritise any remedial work needed so households can return to their homes as soon as possible.
“In some cases, we will work with the residents to find alternative permanent accommodation that meets their needs if that isn’t possible.”
Sophie has been told they won't be returning to the property.
After the Christmas flooding, Anglian Water explained the flooding was “extreme and occurred in a very short period of time, following exceptional rainfall”.
A spokesperson said: “Drainage systems are complex and managed by a number of organisations including councils, private drainage companies, the Environment Agency and Anglian Water amongst others...
“They’re not designed to carry water from rivers that have burst or spilled over, or the volume of floodwater we’ve seen following this week’s rain, which is what has caused the flooding we’ve seen.”