Flood victims ‘left to fend for themselves’

Water in Brighton Road back in December PICTURE: ROY CLARKE
Water in Brighton Road back in December PICTURE: ROY CLARKE

ADUR Council has been criticised for not doing enough to help residents at risk of flooding.

Roy Clarke, 66, of New Road, Shoreham, has written to the council asking why more has not been done, including providing sandbags for residents.

His house fronts on to Brighton Road, opposite Sussex Yacht Club, and he was one of those affected by the December floods.

“I’m well aware of the broader situation here, my family having lived in Shoreham for several generations,” he said.

Mr Clarke wrote to the council, saying: “How about a few sandbags? How about deploying staff to assist elderly residents to defend their properties?”

But he was told his house was in a flood risk zone, where residents are expected to make their own provisions for flood protection.

Mr Clarke questioned the response from the technical services department, which said the effectiveness of sandbags in the area was ‘considered dubious’.

“Sandbags are used everywhere for this purpose,” he pointed out.

“Sandbags were in fact an adequate solution to the problem in the case of my own property and two others immediately adjacent. In this case, the improvised ‘sandbags’ were pillowcases.”

On Thursday, with the threat of further floods, he and his neighbours took steps to defend their properties again. Mr Clarke estimated around 20 houses were at risk there, being at the lowest point in Shoreham.

“I think that the council’s lack of concern for these problems is disgraceful, particularly in view of the minimal costs of providing, at the very least, a few sandbags,” he said.

“For myself, this is sufficiently important that I don’t intend to let the matter rest.”

Adur Council issued a statement on Monday, saying staff were on standby over the weekend to assist with flood prevention.

Kingston Beach, near Shoreham Harbour, suffered some damage, but other areas were protected by flood defence schemes.

“The repairs carried out following the St Jude Storm to the Shoreham Airport river wall stood up well,” the council said.

“All in all the coast defences across Adur and Worthing stood up well and were very effective.”

During the worst of the weather on Friday, a group of young men was spotted on the sea wall in Shoreham.

They narrowly avoided being knocked off as huge waves broke around them.

Environment Agency officials urge weather-watchers to stay away from the shoreline during such conditions. Pictures were seen in national newspapers of people across the country putting their lives at risk.

Julian Seaman, harbour master at Shoreham Port, said: “The pictures prove how powerful and unforgiving the sea can be during adverse weather conditions.

“We strongly discourage anyone from walking out along the breakwaters or down by the water’s edge when storms are forecast for their own personnel safety.”

Meanwhile, Adur Council chairman Mike Mendoza praised the great community and family atmosphere, with many people contacting him to offer help where needed across the district. Read more in his column on page 6.