Council criticised over failure to prepare for Marlow floods

Bucks Free Press: Council criticised over failure to prepare for floods Council criticised over failure to prepare for floods

A WOMAN whose elderly relatives were rescued by search and rescue volunteers after waking up to find their home flooded has criticised Wycombe Dsitrict Council for its handling of the crisis.

Gina Szitkovics’s 80-year-old uncle and aunt, 76, only moved into Firview Clsoe in Marlow just before Christmas, and have faced threats of flooding ever since.

The elderly couple, who do not want to be named, first saw their street under water two weeks ago, with residents clubbing together to pay for a pump themselves.

And Ms Szitkovics said despite the warning signs, the council did not do enough to help protect residents before the this week’s devastating floods.

She said: "My aunt and uncle only moved into the close in December and it’s already been flooded.

"A week later and the water is all in their house, and they’ve had to pay for a pump to get the water out.

"The council have had warnings as long ago as three weeks that this would happen and something should have been put in place beforehand.

"My aunt rang them last week for help but they fobbed us off and just said it was not as bad as in 2011.

"We got hold of the sandbags in the end but not early enough. We had to use our own initiative.

"The amount they pay in council tax, they are in the highest band, I know they’re near the river but surely something could have been done sooner."

Ms Szitkovic’s uncle woke up on Sunday to find an inch of water throughout the ground floor of the house, which rose to three inches throughout the week.

The elderly couple were then evacuated from their homes by Bucks Search and Rescue, who were out in force last weekend checking on vulnerable residents.

Ms Szitkovics said the volunteer team were the only ones to visit the properties to help, and that her aunt was helped into a car by rescue workers.

She added that the council has now begun pumping water from the properties in the private road, but that they should have acted sooner.

Her relatives are now staying with her in Flackwell Heath until their house is habitable again.

WDC insists it is doing everything it can to assist residents affected and says it has been paying for four pumps at Firview Close since Friday, February 7.

Spokesman Nick Sykes said: "We sympathise with all those affected and are working around the clock with partner organisations to ensure that we do everything we possibly can to help local residents and businesses deal with the severe flooding.

"Since last Friday, teams have filled and distributed over 7,000 hand-filled sandbags on a priority basis to properties in Marlow, Bourne End and Mill End. As a moderate estimate, we have distributed around 15,000 since the beginning of 2014.

"We are grateful to Bucks Fire and Rescue Service, who maintain a presence in Marlow, and to Marlow Town Council for co-ordinating distribution of sandbags on our behalf.

"The army also arrived in Marlow on Wednesday to provide support with distributing sandbags to those who need them. In addition, we have received many kind offers of help from the local community."

WDC has urged all those who live in flood affected areas to the Environment Agency's free alert system at https://fwd.environment-agency.gov.uk/app/olr/home

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