GALLERY: Army comes to the rescue of Saffron Walden flood victims
14:36 07 February 2014
Flood victims in Saffron Walden have described being woken by “raging torrents” of water flowing through their homes.
Residents in The Spike, Elizabeth Way and Lavender Field have all been badly affected by this morning’s floods – which have brought chaos to large parts of Uttlesford.
Soldiers from Carver Barracks have been assisting with the response efforts by handing out sandbags, while firefighters used a boat to rescue 10 people – including two children – and two dogs from flats in The Spike.
Many of the flat occupants have been temporarily housed elsewhere but some, on the top floor, have chosen to stay.
Newport Free Grammar School and Saffron Walden County High are among the many schools that have been forced to close.
County High maths teacher Will Taylor, of The Spike, spoke of the moment he and girlfriend Jo Watson, 26, discovered the flooding.
“I looked out of the window and saw people being evacuated in little boats,” the 25-year-old said. “The water was pretty high, up to the top of the wheels on people’s cars. It was quite surreal – it’s not often you see a boat being dragged along the road and people working to try and empty their cars of flood water.”
Mr Taylor, whose flat was not affected by the flooding, added: “It’s good of the Army to come out of their own accord [to lay sandbags]. One of the soldiers lives here, I believe. Everyone is now prepping for more rain to come.”
Miss Watson and Mr Taylor were also using a jug to scoop the water from their car, which had originally splurted out flood water from the exhaust when it failed to start.
Simon Payne, 24, described being woken by emergency sirens at 5am. He said: “I waded out into the water and it was about knee height. My car was full of water but fortunately it’s quite an old one so it doesn’t bother me as much as what some people must be feeling.
“The Army has been. It’s quite handy that one of the soldiers lives here and they have been fantastic. It’s not until it happens here that you really start to think what it must be like in places like Somerset.”
Elsewhere, in Lavender Field, resident Adam Power, 27, told of there being a “bowel of water” in Elizabeth Way earlier this morning.
Mr Power and his 28-year-old girlfriend Grace Phelan have only been living in their new home for three weeks. He said: “We just moved in so haven’t got any furniture. But everything on the floor is ruined. There were TVs, a PlayStation, the modem for the internet, just electronics mainly. I came downstairs and stepped right into the water – it was just over ankle height.
“We’ve got cats, too. They were pretty scared, but the main thing is that we are all OK. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone but it could have been worse.”
A couple of residents in Lavender Field speculated that a new housing development in Ashdon Road could have been partly to blame for the flooding.
Nick Crawley, a director of the management company responsible for the houses in Lavender Field, said: “This has never happened before. With those new houses, I don’t know if the drainage has been done but the water came across from that direction.
“The council has just sent us three letters asking for our views about 800 more houses being built to the east of Saffron Walden – I think they need their heads examined.”
Another woman, who asked not to be named, said there were “raging torrents” of flood water flowing through her house.
“Everybody is suspicious because what used to be a ploughed field is now a load of houses and concrete,” she explained. “I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself right now.
“My granddaughters have been here this morning helping me. We’ve been mopping up and trying to dry the place out. You don’t realise until you start clearing up just how much there is to do. It’s an absolute pain in the neck.”