Floods ‘just a freak of nature’

Flooding in Harborough on Saturday, July 27, last year
Flooding in Harborough on Saturday, July 27, last year

A formal investigation into last summer’s flooding in Harborough has cleared all authorities of any blame and puts the event down to a freak of nature.

The 35-page summary document which was published last week was compiled by a senior engineer from Leicestershire County Council’s Flood Risk Management Team.

It took into account 117 responses from the public and interviewed representatives from Harborough District Council, Anglian Water and the Environment Agency.

In a letter sent to all 50 properties affected by the flooding on Saturday, July 27, county council senior engineer Jon McGuinness said: “The investigation has highlighted that the flooding in the town centre was a result of the intense rainfall that fell within the district. This rainfall was greater than the designed size capacity of the sewer.

“This caused the sewer systems to fill and consequently flood.”

The flooding had nothing to go with the River Welland or blockages in drains and the Commons car park water tank did its job as designed, said Mr McGuinness.

However, the report makes several recommendations which the county council and Anglian Water have both promised to act on.

Anglian Water will be carrying out improvement work to the sewers in Coventry Road to increase the amount of water they can carry and store within the pipes.

There are some areas in that road which are not up to the one-in-30-year storm event standard under sewer network regulations.

The county council will be investigating and looking at funding to help provide flood protection to properties such as flood doors and air brick covers for those most at risk.

It will also be holding a flood fair in Harborough so people can find out more about their flood risk and how to protect their premises.

The report mentioned that yellow warnings had been issued by the Flood Forecasting Centre at 10.30am and 4pm on the day of the flood but yellow risks only predict a “low likelihood of significant disruption”.

Rainfall data from the four closest weather stations suggested that about 60mm of rain fell over Harborough within a 24-hour period on July 17 and 28.

“The flooded properties typically had a water level of 25cm inside their buildings although this was significantly more in those with cellars.

One worrying fact identified in the report was that people who used sandbags were not able to stop water from getting in their premises.

The report states: “Those properties that deployed sandbags were not effective and ultimately suffered flooding.”

The report had to be compiled as part of statutory obligations under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 and the county council is the lead authority on flooding.

Harborough Council leader Cllr Blake Pain said: “We welcome the recommendations in the report and will continue to work with relevant agencies and local communities to make further improvements to help protect properties at risk of flooding.”