A Barnoldswick woman who phoned Lancashire County Council’s drains team for urgent help as her home flooded during a devastating freak rainstorm was told “it’s not raining here in Burnley”.
Anne Ainley, of Raikes Beck Cottage, first phoned the county council’s helpline at 2-30pm last Thursday when a deluge hit Barnoldswick causing 2ft. high fountains of water to shoot into the air from manhole covers in Long Ing Lane.
After a repeat phone call an hour later pleading for drain cleaners to come quickly, a team with sandbags arrived at 5pm, by which time flood water was shin deep in her integral garage and was covering the conservatory, study and kitchen.
A drain cleaning team arrived at 7pm, and although Mrs Ainley says the men were “fantastic”, she is “disgusted” with the initial response.
Mrs Ainley now hopes to see drains cleaned more frequently and wants to see work done to the pavement outside her property to alleviate some of the flooding risk, something which she says has been discussed since 1991, but no work ever carried out.
Mrs Ainley said: “To get that response... I just feel totally despondent and I’m disgusted. I was panicking. But the council just did not seem interested.
“The council men were absolutely brilliant, they couldn’t do more for me, sweeping water out of the house and coming back on Friday to hang rugs out. But they were too late.
“The council only clean the drains once a year. That is not good enough for a known flood area.
“The best apology I could now get would be for the council to do something with the pavement outside within the next month.”
Oliver Starkey, Lancashire County Council highways manager for East Lancashire, said: “I’m very sorry Mrs Ainley feels that we didn’t handle her call appropriately as our staff were at the time taking similar calls from a number of very concerned residents and would be expected to provide a professional service particularly at a time of crisis.
“We put all our available resources into providing sandbags, checking drains were clear and working, and assisting residents, with our highway teams staying on into the evening to make sure we’d done as much as we could to help as the flooding subsided and the clean-up began.
“Mrs Ainley’s property is in a natural area of drainage which means water from the highway is one of a number of factors which contribute to flooding.
“However, we are planning to do work in the coming months to improve the design of kerbs and drains to reduce the risk and possible impact of flooding from the highway in future.”
Meanwhile, Barnoldswick’s Liberal Democrat group has called for an investigation into the causes and possible cures for the flash flooding, which saw some previously unaffected parts of Barlick flood, and queried if the Environment Agency cleared trash screens following the floods.
Responding, an Environment Agency spokesman said: “When heavy rain is forecast our field teams check main rivers, such as Stock Beck in Barnoldswick, to ensure there are no blockages that could stop the flow of water downstream and increase the risk of flooding.
“On Monday, August 11th, we carried out our usual checks to the Pendle grids that stop debris from entering Stock Beck, where no blockages were discovered.
“On Thursday, August 14th, we received reports that flooding had occurred on Greenberfield Road, so we visited the area to investigate the cause of the flooding.
“We found that the likely cause was a culvert on a private piece of land near the football ground that wasn’t big enough to hold the volume of water that fell in the area that day and had a partial blockage.”