Families stage demo demanding new bridge after floods woe
- Credit: Courtesy of Abigail Mill
Residents will today stage a demonstration demanding a new bridge, after revealing their Christmas flooding trauma.
Families living in Redenhall and Lushbush, just outside Harleston, were among the worst hit during the Christmas flooding, which saw a months’ worth of rain fall in 24 hours.
As waters reached up to a metre, homes were damaged and some residents have been forced into temporary accommodation with no idea when they will be able to return.
Abigail Mill, a Redenhall resident, said the event had left families "heartbroken" and fearing for the future.
The 51-year-old said: “We have the Starston beck running at the back of our properties.
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“On the night a months’ worth of rainfall fell in one day. We are not on the flood warning or plain.
“But we were hit with the massive flooding from both sides. The beck burst its bank and we got hit by all the surface water from the fields. It was like we were sitting in a goldfish bowl. We didn’t have a hope.
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"It went from 1ft at 1am and at 3am it was one metre.
“The three bungalows alongside me were totally wiped out. I woke up to farmers knocking on my door saying we were going to lose our vehicles.
“My immediate neighbours, who are in their 80s, were trapped in their house next door.
“By the time they packed their bags the water was so high they couldn’t get out, so they retreated to their attic space.
“The called emergency services but they couldn't get to them. We realised they couldn’t be rescued so as a community we waded through to get them out.
“They were piggy-backed out and we took them to our house – which we used as a makeshift flood rescue centre.
“Everybody was in shock, there were lots of tears.
“But there was no help from anyone, not the emergency service or the council; so, we had to club together to help each other.”
Following the flooding, Mrs Mill set up the Redenhall Flood Group, which includes 12 families, all of whom were left with considerable flooding damage.
And months later they are still dealing with the aftermath – empty homes, damaged property, lost possessions and insurance claims costing close to a quarter of a million.
But looking back on the event, the community have been left asking ‘why did this happen?’ and many believe that the Redenhall bridge on the A143 is partly to blame - which did not allow flood water to flow through onto a designated floodplain.
During the Christmas floods the bridge was badly damaged and this week Norfolk County Council’s highways department is doing repair work.
But Mrs Mill said this was not enough and a new bridge needed to be built to stop this from happening again.
She said: “There are so many contributing factors but we all believe it is the bridge that is at fault.
"If everything was working properly it should have flowed through onto the floodplain and we wouldn’t have been flooded at the level that we were.
“We also recently discovered that in 1987 an identical flood happened. The same community fought the council and said the bridge was not built correctly.
“Yet here we are again and we are here in exactly the same boat.
“But highways are planning to repair it rather than rebuild it. So, we are putting pressure on the council to apply for external funding. It’s completely inadequate.”
A Norfolk County Council spokesman said an assessment of the bridge would be carried out as part of a Norfolk-wide flooding report.
They said: “Work started this week to make necessary repairs to Redenhall bridge which, when complete, will allow the traffic lights on the A143 to be removed and vehicles to flow as usual.
“Investigations are ongoing into the 400 plus reports of flooding across Norfolk from December 2020.
“For each location, such as at Redenhall, the flood investigation report will look into the rainfall intensity and impact, response of relevant organisations, the likely causes and will recommend remedial actions and measures.
“This investigation involves talking to home owners, local councils, drainage organisations and relevant local landowners, and we aim to publish the report in summer 2021, after a period of consultation with the local community and key organisations.”
The group is protesting at the bridge from noon on Tuesday March 30.
Mrs Mill said they were calling on the council for:
- A flood warning system
- An adequate response from emergency serves when we called
- The bridge to be replaced
- An assurance that there will be no run-off from the new houses into our beck
- Improved maintenance of the beck
She added: “It has really affected everybody's livelihood and the stress of having to deal with this, losing your home and all of your possessions.
“Even local residents don’t know what we have been through, not even in Harleston. We are suffering and the bridge needs rebuilding.
“It has been awful. I just want to see our community move back home safely. To get them home without the nightmare and worry that every time the beck bursts we will lose our homes.
“A lot of people have been traumatised by this. We need reassurance from the council that they will do something about it.
“We may only be 12 houses, but that doesn’t mean that they can ignore us and our livelihoods.”