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Villages prepare to face flooding

By Sevenoaks Chronicle  |  Posted: June 14, 2012

  • burst banks: Flooding at the ford in Eynsford Photo by Robert Streeter

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FLOOD alerts were issued for the River Darent this week, but Sevenoaks' main water supplier has insisted that the hosepipe ban must stay in place.

The Environment Agency said on Tuesday that 2,500 properties were at risk from flooding in Sevenoaks after heavy downpours earlier in the week, but yesterday lifted the warning.

But residents near the River Darent, which runs between Westerham and Dartford, are bracing themselves for a rainy month, which could see the water level swell to damaging levels.

Villages most at risk are Eynsford, Otford, Dunton Green, Chipstead, Sundridge, Brasted and Westerham.

Alan Williams, chairman of the Darent River Protection Society, said: "I think some properties in low-lying areas could be affected and I am very sorry for them.

"It doesn't look too bad at the moment but it could get worse."

Villages expected to be affected are ready for any floods.

Alan Wesley, chairman of Westerham Parish Council, said: "We keep in close contact with the two areas most likely to flood in Westerham – Brewery Cottages and Rysted Lane.

"These relationships and being proactive really helps at times like this."

Jean Middleton and Daryl Whittaker live by Eynsford Ford and said they had seen a rise in water levels.

Miss Middleton said: "The level reached two foot on Monday which was quite high. We are not too worried about the alert as we are used to it. It doesn't look like water will be getting into our house yet."

At Shoreham, parish council chairman Ralph Abbott and his team were prepared. He said: "At the moment the risk is extremely low, although that could change if severe weather were to occur.

"A couple of years ago, the parish council issued a leaflet to all 'at risk' households, giving helpful advice such as how to get hold of sandbags, an explanation of the flood warning levels and how to register for the free alert service, plus all emergency telephone numbers. This information will be recirculated."

Otford Parish Council chairman John Edwards-Winser said there had been flooding in the village.

"Apart from raised river levels and a bit of flooding on the water meadows opposite the VW garage, which is why they are called water meadows, we do not anticipate major problems," he said.

"The only fly in the ointment are the drains in Rye Lane, where more water comes out of them than goes in."

The Environment Agency is working with the most at-risk homeowners.

Howard Davidson, South East regional director, said: "Our teams have been working throughout the weekend to reduce flood risk where possible.

"We've had a lot of rain – some areas had a month's rainfall in just 24 hours.

"More unsettled weather is forecast for the rest of the week and those at risk should take steps to limit the damage a flood can cause to themselves and their property."

Meanwhile, Sevenoaks main water supplier South East Water said this week the hosepipe ban was likely to continue until the autumn, although Thames Water and Southern Water lifted their bans today (Thursday).

For more information, visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk

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