‘It needs to get sorted’ - heartfelt plea after flood nightmare

Flooding in March, Cambridgeshire

Chrissie Morrison's in Gold Street, March, flooded in 2014 and 2020. Her garden first flooded in 2003, around three years after she moved into the property. - Credit: Jay Hill

Frustration, anger, disappointment and fear reflect only some of the emotions Chrissie Morrison shared with her son Jay about her flood-prone home of 21 years.

“At one point, mum threw me the keys to her house and told me to sort the mess out because she didn’t want to live there anymore,” he said.

“She was prepared to rent somewhere else rather than go back into her own home. She is starting to come around now and is staying there again – but mum doesn’t feel safe.”

Gold Street Flooding Christmas 2020

Chrissie Morrison's home in Gold Street, March, was flooded on Christmas 2020. She was also flooded in 2014. - Credit: Jay Hill

Chrissie's home in Gold Street, March was flooded on Christmas Eve; only after three weeks was she able to move back.

“The skirting boards are back on and she’s just waiting on carpets now,” he added.

His mum has lived in Gold Street since 2000 – and has had issues with flooding in her garden since 2003 and her house flooded in the 2014 floods.

The evening before Christmas Eve, she called Jay to tell him flood water was rising around the house and within an hour it was entering her home.

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The next morning, Chrissie had six inches of water in her kitchen and bathroom and three inches in her lounge.

Luckily, they had been to get small items and personal possessions upstairs before the water levels reached too high.

He said: “Every time it’s expected to rain, she’s nervous about what the outcome will be. During the bad weather last week, my partner slept on the sofa close to the phone in case we had to get to mum quickly.”

He added: “It’s no way for any of us to live – and we’re not the only ones going through this.

“Too many families have suffered through flooding, and it needs to get sorted out now. Everyone is fed up with all the excuses.”

James Hill in his mothers house at Gold Street, March. Picture: Steve Williams.

March Floods Aftermath. James Hill in his mothers house at Gold Street in 2014. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

There are reports of families now living in hotels during lockdown while their homes dry out, and an elderly couple in Coates were forced to use a camping toilet and had no washing facilities over Christmas.

Two historic homes in the West End, March, may have to be demolished because of long term issues with the drains.

For some, what makes the situation more frustrating is that they have been reporting the issues for up to 20 years.

While Jay praised the efforts of March Town Council for getting sandbags to residents during the recent bad weather, he, like many, feel it’s the wider drainage and sewerage infrastructure that needs to be dealt with.

Morton Avenue floods, March 2020

Sophie Brammer's bungalow in Morton Avenue was completely flooded the night before Christmas Eve. - Credit: Sophie Brammer

Cllr Jan French, deputy leader of Fenland District Council, has led the response locally to flooding.

And with town council and other colleagues and has helped to source, and to fill, hundreds of sandbags.

“The demand for sandbags in March has been huge,” she said.

“In the last week, the team has delivered between 500 and 600 bags to residents across the town. I’ve even had 15-20 more requested today (January 26).”

Next Wednesday (February 3), Cambridgeshire County Council - the leading flood authority - meets with all partners involved in the flood response at Christmas.

Invitations to attend have gone to Anglian Water, the Environment Agency, Middle Level Commissioners, district councils and the emergency services.

Gold Street Flooding, Christmas 2020

Emergency services pumping water out of Chrissie Morrison's property in Gold Street, March, on Christmas Eve. - Credit: Jay Hill

Cllr French, who is also a member of Cambridgeshire County Council, has collated details of households affected by the Christmas floods ahead of Wednesday meeting.

To this, she added: “We're hoping to find out where the problems are and what the solutions will be - and these solutions need to be implemented.”

North East Cambridgeshire MP Steve Barclay has written of his meeting with numerous agencies to discuss flooding, particularly across Coates, March and Tydd St Giles.

Councillors in Manea and Doddington are also collecting information about issues there.

Gold Street floods 2014

Chrissie Morrison's garden first flooded in 2003. This was taken when her home was flooded in 2014. - Credit: Jay Hill

Virginia Bucknor, a former Wisbech town and district councillor, threw in a reminder that flooding is an issue in her town. She has urged those involved in flood prevention not to overlook Wisbech when it comes to any flood prevention efforts.

Mrs Bucknor helped to form Wisbech Flood Wardens with the Environment Agency after an unusually high tide was close to coming over the harbour walls in December 2013.

Flood alerts had not been issued to residents and the town’s emergency services called elsewhere.

She said: “Afterwards, I wrote to the Chief Constable, the Chief Executive of Fenland District Council, the fire service etc and said Wisbech was a couple of inches away from danger and we must NEVER be overlooked again.”

She added: “Wisbech happened to be ok this time but it’s really vital it is included in any meetings related to flooding, and not ignored.”