Contamination, sandbags and ice gritting: day five of Staines flooding

Residents on a Staines street have now faced five days of flooding – and there are worries contaminated water could enter their homes.

The flooding in Guildford Street began on Thursday, February 4, but five days in, local government and Thames Water were still on the scene to help control rising levels.

Chris Bateson, a councillor from the Staines South ward was one of the people onsite. While the street is outside his direct ward, he was contacted as a Staines area councillor.

He said: “Residents are extremely concerned as water levels rise and the fact it has now been confirmed as contaminated water. Their greatest fear is that this water might enter their homes with all the devastation that would bring.”

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“Surrey County Council is aware of the situation and is constantly monitoring water levels and draining as often as is necessary to kept contaminated water at bay. I, and I am sure other councillors, are on hand to assist residents in any way we can at this distressing time for them.”

SurreyLive photographer Grahame Larter was there at about midday yesterday (February 8), and described how some of the pavements further down the street were impassable due to the water.

He saw sandbags up at a lot of the gates, with council representatives are looking at the area, checking on people and the vulnerable. He even saw the contaminated water freezing due to the weather conditions.

As he left the scene, gritters were arriving to tackle the pavements that were visible, and the weather was keeping everybody inside.

Photos from February 8 shows the water beginning to freeze in the frosty weather conditions
(Image: Surrey Live – Grahame Larter)

Cllr Bateson says that since Grahame left, Thames Water has been at the scene: “As requested by residents, I spoke direct to Thames Water citing the seriousness of the problem, as it being contaminated water, presented a health risk.

“They promised me a visit within two hours of making the call, and to their credit, arrived within this time to start clearing the water.”

He said rising water levels from drains were also beginning to occur in nearby Commercial Road, a situation that was being monitored closely.

A councillor-submitted photo shows Thames Water on the scene
(Image: Chris Bateson)

A spokesperson for Thames Water has previously told SurreyLive : “We empathise with everyone affected and are doing what we can to support them including working with the other agencies also responsible for flooding in the area.

“Sewers are designed to carry high volumes of water, but occasionally rainfall is so severe it can overwhelm the system, forcing wastewater up through manholes in streets and gardens.

“Our priority in this situation is to stop any of this diluted sewage getting inside properties and we do everything we can to prevent that from happening.”

Cllr Sinead Mooney, cabinet member for adult social care, public health and domestic abuse at Surrey County Council who represents Staines, spoke to SurreyLive on the morning of Monday, February 8. She said that adult social care has been involved, with support being put in place.

She said: “The situation is becoming intolerable for residents. They are relying on family and friends’ goodwill to support them during this time. The water seems to be rising, slowly but surely, it doesn’t seem apparent that there’s anywhere for it to go.”

But she also added: “There’s a tremendous community spirit on Guildford St, a really close community. The residents there are working closely to push for this issue to be resolved, but to support each other – it’s been really good working closely with the residents. They want a long term solution to this.”

Guildford Street (pictured) is in the Laleham area – but it looks like flooding is also reaching the next road along, Commercial Road
(Image: Surrey Live – Grahame Larter)

Jan Doerfel, councillor for the Staines town ward, said while the underlying factors for the Guildford Street flooding may still need to be established, flooding across the borough is a major problem.

“Flooding across Spelthorne is only bound to further increase due to ongoing climate change. It needs to be urgently addressed.”

Sally Woodward, who lives on a riverboat further up the Thames outside of the contaminated area, has seen flooding across the area become more prominent in recent years.

She said: “When we came here in 1985, I think the last major flood had been in 1947. We are members of Greenpeace, and have been aware since the 70s that this is going to get worse.”

Having seen their summerhouse flood several times over the last decade, they altered the building so it could float during future flooding.

A spokesperson from Surrey County Council said: “Surrey County Council has been working over the weekend to try and alleviate the flooding on Guildford Street, using tankers to pump the water away. With both the River Thames and ground water levels very high, unfortunately the tankers could only have a limited impact.

“On Sunday evening fire services visited residents to check on their welfare and provide any advice needed. We are continuing to support residents during this difficult situation.”

Surrey Live – News