Family's anger after woman, 82, faced being 'marooned' by floodwater

The exposed pipe on Fen Road, Scarning

The exposed pipe on Fen Road, Scarning. - Credit: Lawrence Gould

A Norfolk family has expressed its frustration after taking matters into their own hands to combat dangerous flooding.

June Martin, 82, called her daughter and grandson for help on December 27, when floodwater threatened to leave her “marooned” at her property on Fen Road, Scarning, near Dereham. 

Having registered her concerns to the county council for several years and seen no action taken, Ms Martin remembered that, more than 20 years ago, a clay pipe used to run from the road to a ditch behind it.

Ms Martin said: “It [the pipe’s opening] was smashed to pieces when somebody came along in a digger to clear out the grips. From that moment on, that portion of Fen Road would flood, even in moderate rain.” 

After two hours of digging, the family uncovered the long-neglected pipe. Ms Martin said “the water just gushed through and within 20 minutes had gone.”

The exposed pipe on Fen Road, Scarning

Ms Martin said that within 20 minutes of exposing the pipe, the road had been cleared. - Credit: Lawrence Gould

Later that day, grandson Lawrence Gould posted on the county council’s Facebook page: “Don’t worry Norfolk County Council, don’t mind doing your job for you on a Sunday!! Finding pipes in road verges where there is known flooding and clearing them! #dontworrybillisinthepost!”

Ms Martin's grandson, Lawrence Gould

Ms Martin's grandson, Lawrence Gould. - Credit: Submitted

On January 15, Ms Martin noticed some diggers passing her house. On inspection of the pipe, she was shocked to see it had become blocked again. 

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“I find it unbelievable that the digger’s driver couldn’t see that it [the pipe] had been dug out,” said Ms Martin, who on January 16 was forced to again unblock it herself to prevent another flood. 

“I walked up there with my spade and I pulled about 15-18 inches of soil out of the pipe, so that when the snow melted, water was running back down it, just as we left it a fortnight before,” she said.

William Richmond, Conservative candidate for Dereham North. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

County councillor for Dereham North, William Richmond. - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

County councillor William Richmond said the local highway inspector had considered a flooding issue on Fen Road on January 4.
“A subcontractor of Norfolk county council is due to attend the area, hopefully early next week,” he said. 
A spokesperson for Anglian Water said the company was not aware of any incidents in the area and did not have any assets on Fen Road. 
In an update on January 22, a county council spokesperson said: “We have inspected the site this week to ensure the grip and pipe are still clear.

"We are looking to put in a concrete apron around the grip to make it easier to identify as a piped, non-standard grip to help ensure it is cleared appropriately when future maintenance work is carried out.”