Homeless at Christmas - evacuated families no closer to returning home
PUBLISHED: 11:05 13 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:32 13 December 2019
Families who were evacuated from their flooded homes two months ago will still be homeless at Christmas, with repair work yet to begin.
At the start of October, people living in six properties on Pikeman Place, in Thorpe St Andrew, were forced to flee their homes after heavy downpours left them waterlogged.
With Christmas fast approaching and work yet to even start, they are no nearer an answer of when they will be able to return home.
Housing association Flagship admitted the work is delayed but said they were committed to returning people home "as soon as possible".
But one tenant, speaking anonymously, said she feared, with the properties sat waiting for work, that damp problems initially confined to the ground floor would spread upstairs.
She said tiles were coming off damp walls, carpets were sodden and windows soaked in condensation. She said dehumidifiers which were previously in the homes had been removed, a claim Flagship did not respond to.
"The work hasn't even started," she said, "nothing has been done. No-one has given us any updates, they are not keeping anyone aware.
"In October we were told it would be three months, but they've said they don't have a start date from the insurers."
She said she is currently driving 80 miles a day.
"It's been an absolute battle," she added. "You have six homeless families. We thought that we'd get through this and start again in the new year, but the work hasn't even started."
Residents said their homes have been flooded previously, and in October Carole Roughly, who lives in one of the six evacuated homes, said home insurance companies "would not come near [her]".
A Flagship spokesperson said: "We understand that this is a difficult time for those affected and acknowledge that the repairs have been delayed. However, the works schedule is subject to progression by our insurer's appointed contractor. We continue to monitor progress to ensure this starts as soon as possible, and the schedule of works will be shared as soon as a start date is confirmed."
They said a surveyor had visited each property and was unable to "identify any signs of damp spreading upstairs", and said they have arranged regular pumping out of the drains.
Investigations are ongoing into "further precautions" to prevent future problems.
The tenant said families were initially put in unfurnished and unsuitable temporary accommodation.
She said one person was placed in a hotel, while another was in a home without carpets.
The families have contacted Shelter housing charity for support, with Lesley Burdett, Norfolk hub manager, saying they were working with tenants to ensure they were "adequately housed" and fully compensated.
They have also been helped by then-Norwich North MP, Chloe Smith, who said she contacted the residents "immediately" to help.
A Flagship spokesperson said: "We have been in regular contact with our customers, and all efforts have been made to provide suitable accommodation, taking into consideration school runs, support networks and places of work. By working with each customer individually, we have identified ways to support them as much as possible in respect of the damage caused by the flooding."