Families left to clean up after flood deluge

PUBLISHED: 09:39 11 December 2009 | UPDATED: 09:32 12 August 2010

COMPLAINT:Olivia Fawkes and her twins.

COMPLAINT:Olivia Fawkes and her twins.

A RESIDENT has criticised Thames Water for their non-existent customer service during the clean-up following a major flood caused by a burst pipe at a busy junction, writes Kate Mead. Olivia Fawkes of Victoria Road, Bromley, spent three hours cleaning

A RESIDENT has criticised Thames Water for their 'non-existent' customer service during the clean-up following a major flood caused by a burst pipe at a busy junction, writes Kate Mead.

Olivia Fawkes of Victoria Road, Bromley, spent three hours cleaning the sludge from her property after a burst water main in Bromley Common flooded surrounding roads with up to seven inches of water.

Traffic has been diverted since the incident in the early hours of last Thursday and roads are expected to reopen tomorrow.

But the mum-of-two is fuming after requests for assistance in cleaning her property and surrounding pavements have been ignored.

She said: "We were very lucky the water didn't get into the front door but it got up to the front steps. We moved the car because that nearly flooded. We were left with a huge are of silty grey slippery mud, our patio area was just covered in it.

"I rang Thames Water who said they would send an assessor but nobody turned up. I asked whether they would cover the cost of a high pressure washer, I was happy to do it myself but wondered whether they would cover the cost but they said no way could they guarantee to cover the cost.

"In the end I spent three hours cleaning it myself with a normal hose. I have two year old twin boys so I have got better things to do with my time."

Thames Water said that they had 'no record' of being contacted by Ms Fawkes, who lives with her twin boys Alexander and Samuel and partner Alisdair Crewe, even though she called the company twice and was given a reference number.

The company hand delivered a letter to properties affected last Friday from Network Operations Manager Danny Leamon which read: "Our loss adjustors are available to assist with the clean up operation, but will also be able to provide advice relating to insurance claims for any damage caused."

Ms Fawkes slammed the letter, adding: "It looks like it has been rushed out, the grammar is terrible! There seems to be no question of compensation and they say they will help us with our insurance claims.

"But why should we lose our no claims bonus when it was their fault? It seems to be a suggestion that they are not taking responsible for it.

"Their general attitude has been terrible. The pavement is still covered in slippery mud and we have no idea if anyone is to clean it."

A spokesperson for Thames Water said that there was no record of the company receiving a call from the family but insisted that an assessor will be sent to them after receiving a call from the Times, adding: "We advise customers to claim on their own insurance as anything we replace will be like for like whereas their insurance companies will replace items that have been damaged with brand new items. Insurance companies will then claim from us so there will be no effect on residents' no claims bonuses."

Cleaning the roads of mud in Victoria Road and Salisbury Road will be taking place in the next few days, according to Bromley council and Thames Water when repairs have been finished and traffic diversions have been lifted.

Bromley council will then issue parking suspensions in affected roads in order to deep clean the area.

Extensive work has been carried out this week on the 18-inch cast-iron water main, opposite The Crown pub, which is a transfer pipe pumping water from Shortlands to the storage reservoir in Farnborough.

Firefighters from Bromley, Orpington and Beckenham were called at 1.18am last Thursday and cordoned off the area and sand banked the road to reduce further flooding of the area.

Some 25 homes and gardens were flooded and diversions have caused major disruption in both directions of the A21 with buses diverted from Crown Lane to Southborough Lane and Blackbrook Lane towards Widmore Road and the High Street.

Water supply to some properties were affected last Friday as Thames Water shut off the main in order to carry out repairs.

Mr Leamon, of Thames Water said: "It is too soon to tell what caused the failure on this occasion and an investigation is already underway to try and identify it."

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