‘Major flooding’ poses risk to Harpenden homes

PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:00 08 October 2020

Drainage problems along Hyde Close, Harpenden pose a flood threat every time it rains. Picture: Martyn and Carol Hedges

Drainage problems along Hyde Close, Harpenden pose a flood threat every time it rains. Picture: Martyn and Carol Hedges

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Harpenden residents are finding themselves in deep water as rain persistently poses a flood threat to their homes.

Flood water has trapped residents of Hyde Close, Harpenden in their homes. Picture: Martyn and Carol HedgesFlood water has trapped residents of Hyde Close, Harpenden in their homes. Picture: Martyn and Carol Hedges

“Hyde Close suffers from two major difficulties at the moment, and they’ve both been going on for a long time,” Carol Hedges, whose home backs onto Hyde Close, said.

“The first one is the fact that the two drains are blocked. Because the council have built this cycle path extension in Westfield Road, all the water from the main Westfield Road funnels into Hyde Close. We have a major source of water just coming in, as well as the water that would just fall naturally.

“If you combine that with the two blocked drains, then you’ve got major flooding every time there is a torrential downpour or long-term, heavy rain.”

Mrs Hedges, who has lived on parallel Coldharbour Lane for 33 years, expressed her frustration at the ongoing issue: “We’ve had to build flood barriers at the back of our house with fertiliser sacks and wood.

The flood water in Hyde Close, Harpenden also affects neighbouring streets. Picture: Martyn and Carol HedgesThe flood water in Hyde Close, Harpenden also affects neighbouring streets. Picture: Martyn and Carol Hedges

“We’re just hoping and praying that they’ll be tested. But it means that when there is a big bad storm, we’re up all night checking if water’s coming in. We just don’t feel secure.”

Carol and her husband Martyn, both in their 70s, have been pushing water away from their home, which is physically taxing work.

“Imagine a mini river flowing onto your terrace, and threatening to come into your kitchen and your living room. We have to sweep the water around the side of the house and out of the side gate, onto the street. We’re doing that for hours.

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“It was just about doable in the summer, I’m not sure it’s going to be in the depths of winter.”

Feeling that their lives are threatened by the persistent flooding, the couple are considering taking legal action against the council.

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: “Our highways engineers are aware of the flooding problems in Hyde Close and have visited the site on several occasions to see the problem for themselves, speak to residents and investigate the cause of the flooding.

“Unfortunately, following these investigations, it is clear that this is not a simple problem we can fix quickly, and we have had to order in specialist equipment to carry out a more detailed survey of the drainage system in the area.

“We know that this flooding is a serious concern for residents, and sorting it out is a priority for us. While there is no quick solution, we’re working hard to fix this and to make sure that residents and local councillors are being kept up to date on progress.”

Kevin Carrol, Ringway Divisional Manager working on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council, said: “We are aware and understand local concerns with flooding in Hyde Close.

“The torrential rain experienced over the weekend was exceptional, not only in Harpenden but in many parts of the county. This caused flash flooding due to the high intensity rainfall over a short period of time.

“There were multiple instances of localised flooding, which have highlighted drainage issues across the county - that all need to be investigated.

“We need to tackle these in a planned and programmed way to make sure the most serious drainage issues are prioritised. As a result, it has not been possible to programme the necessary drainage investigation works in Hyde Close until January.”

Residents can report instances of highway flooding online via www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/highwayfaults


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