Eltham flood victims' nightmare living in 'demolition site' four months later

News Shopper: Fred and Kathy Seago in their kitchen four months after the floods Fred and Kathy Seago in their kitchen four months after the floods

Flood victims say they often "burst into tears" as the "nightmare" continues - four months after water trashed their Eltham homes.

Many residents of Westhorne Avenue are still living in a state of "demolition", with one family forced to eat in their summer house and people receiving counselling over their ruined homes.

News Shopper: Residents of Westhorne Avenue, Eltham, watch the floods

There have been lengthy delays in repairing the 23 houses flooded with freezing, dirty water on Christmas Eve after a grill on the River Quaggy became blocked following heavy rainfall.

News Shopper: The flooded River Quaggy

Families are facing another four months of building work in a "soul destroying" process waiting for the houses to dry out, with delays from surveyors, insurance companies, and contractors.

News Shopper: Fred and Kathy Seago's living room

Rosemary Clay, whose ground floor was devastated with furniture and curtains ruined, told News Shopper: "To see your kitchen gutted and your home in a skip was soul destroying.

"It is a nightmare for us all.

"In four months, the houses are only just being dried out.

"There are days when you just burst into tears and you think, this can’t be normal, but you hear other people going through it and you think - we can get through this."

The flood victims blame the "man-made" flood on the Environment Agency which is in charge of the blocked grate and fear the same thing happening again.

But the Environment Agency claims they were maintaining it and the area has a "history of flooding" – despite the last flood occurring in 1968.

News Shopper: Angela Barrow's living room

Mother-of-one Mrs Clay, 63, said: "I am not sleeping, a lot of us are so worried that the same thing could happen next year.

"We simply can’t go through it again."

Kathy Seago, 55, nearly drowned when she was a child and says the experience brought back painful memories. She said: "When it rains, you start to panic and think whether it is going to happen again.

"I nearly drowned as a youngster, so I think it all brought it back.

She added the one good thing to have emerged from the crisis was the sense of community.

Mrs Seago and her husband Fred, 76, live with her 83-year-old mother and have to eat in the summer house and cook in a small utility room as their kitchen and living room have been stripped.

News Shopper: Some residents affected by the flood, pictured in the Seago's summer house. L-R, Rosemary Clay, Angela Barrow, Kathy and Fred Seago,

Mr Seago said: "I am old enough to sit in my armchair and think this is the end but now I am sitting in a demolition site.

"It’s taken four months out of my life, it will take another four months.

"A lot of people want their money back from the Environment Agency as it was a man-made fault. I believe our insurance companies should be hammering them."

Leader of Greenwich Conservatives and councillor for Eltham ward, Coun Spencer Drury, who is raising the issue with Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affair Owen Paterson, added: "It is awful.

"It seems to me it has dragged on appallingly and they are still not 100 per cent sure whether the grate is actually the same as it was before."

An Environment Agency spokesman said: "We have always maintained this grill and we are looking to see what improvements we can make to minimise any risk of the flooding recurring.

"The flooding was down to a combination of extremely high flow and very heavy debris flow.

"There is a history of flooding here, it flooded in 1968.

“Obviously our thoughts are with those residents and we understand the upset and disruption this sort of thing causes and we are committed to minimise the risk of this sort of recurrence.”

He added lighting and CCTV had been installed to monitor the grill and household insurance would be expected to pay for the damage.

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