Victims of Kettering Christmas Eve floods still waiting for answers one year on

Catastrophic floods engulfed the Kettering Parkway housing estate, leaving at least 25 homes uninhabitable

By Alison Bagley
Friday, 24th December 2021, 6:00 am

A year on from catastrophic floods which engulfed a Kettering housing estate residents are still waiting for answers over why they did not receive flood warnings.

Although signed-up to the automatic alert system, homeowners in Stratfield Way on Kettering Parkway were not warned of the impending floods that hit their homes on Christmas Eve morning in 2020.

Torrential rain had pounded the county with an estimated 50mm to 60mm falling in one day - seven times the previous year's total for the same month - leaving residents scrambling to save precious belongings from the rising waters.The floods left at least 25 homes uninhabitable, with more damage caused elsewhere around the rest of the county.

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Residents are brought to dry land in Kettering

Stratfield Way residents and current mayor and mayoress of Kettering, councillors Scott and Eve Edwards, were flooded out along with neighbours who live close to the Slade Brook - a tributary of the River Ise.

Scott, 45, said: "All the reports (about the incident) have been delayed due to the sheer volume of flooding incidents and because of Covid.

"I saw some workers from the Environment Agency and they said they would be coming to dredge the river and there's a plan next year to make a man-made meander on the stretch between our houses and Wicksteed Park.

"The water was flowing way too fast so it didn't trigger the automatic gate.

Water rose after dawn engulfing homes

"I helped in a clear up of the river and we pulled trollies, hoovers and push bikes out of the stream. It's a sad reflection that people think it's acceptable to throw them in the river."

The Edwards family had to move in with relatives, only returning to their home at the beginning of May after insurance refurbishment work had been completed.

Dozens of houses and vehicles were engulfed after the river burst its banks swamping homes, gardens and roads with filthy water.

Read this: Months of clear-up underway for Kettering victims of Christmas Eve floods - Homes in Stratfield Way on Kettering's Venture Park were devasted by floods that struck on December 24Residents signed up to the Environment Agency's early warning flood app only received the alert after water had entered their homes. Phone calls made to the agency helpline were in vain as the number of calls overwhelmed the reporting system. People on early work shifts had left the quiet cul-de-sac at 5am with no sign of floods. By 7am water had risen to cover drives - with cars moved to safety.

The brook broke its banks

By 7.30am the first houses had been breached. At 9.12am people living on Stratfield Way received automated flood warnings from the Environment Agency.

Scott said: "We are looking forward to Christmas this year at home. This Christmas Eve we are getting together on our doorsteps to share a drink with our neighbours and remember last year. It's a way to sort of stick two fingers up to what happened last year.

"All the residents who were affected are now back home. It was inconvenient but nobody was harmed and to my knowledge everybody was insured."

At the time a spokesman for the Environment Agency said: "The flooding experienced on December 23 and 24 unfortunately resulted in multiple properties flooding across the county, and a number of our river gauging stations exceeded the highest recorded historic river levels. The nature of the incident led to both surface water flooding and river (fluvial) flooding.

Eve and Scott Edwards' home was ankle deep in filthy river and sewer water

"During this incident, the Environment Agency received a very large number of calls in a short space of time. Unfortunately, we were therefore unable to respond to all calls we received during the incident as our priority was our operational response. This included issuing multiple Flood Alerts and Flood Warnings across the county, as well as operational work in the field."

Under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, the now disbanded Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) then the Lead Local Flood Authority promised to carry out investigations into flooding incidents to see if they meet set thresholds.

Cars were engulfed despite residents' best efforts
Residents signed-up to the flood warning system received the message too late