ADVICE has been issued to those still suffering fallout from the floods which devastated homes around the Thames last month- and to all those concerned about the impact contaminated water may have had on surrounding land.
Although river levels have returned to near-normal, groundwater flooding is still causing problems, and the after-effects of the river floodwater, of groundwater flooding and sewers overflowing are still taking their toll.
High Wycombe & District Citizens Advice Bureau, part of the Marlow Flood Recovery Working group run by Marlow Town Council and the Buckinghamshire County Council Humanitarian Subgroup of the Flood Recovery Coordinating Group, is trying to ensure householders know exactly who is responsible for different aspects of the ongoing recovery operation.
Thames Water (0845 9200 800) is responsible for clean water provision (i.e. water and sewerage), and can provide a basic clearance of sewerage litter and disinfection, in homes which have been flooded.
Residents affected by flooding should also have received a leaflet and questionnaire from Thames Water - they are urged to complete and return them as their responses will help the firm build a case for making improvements to the network. Residents can also call their number to log their local information.
They are inspecting the area weekly to monitor groundwater levels, and are clearing up as soon as levels subside sufficiently.
Wycombe District Council (01494 461000) is responsible for providing and removing sandbags, as well as groundwater issues. If you have unused sandbags and storage space, do keep them in case of future needs. But any used, and all contaminated sandbags, can be left in one of the various locations around the town, and the Council will collect them.
If you have difficulties, such as mobility issues, that leave you unable to carry your sandbags, contact Marlow Town Council who are supporting those in need. There is also financial support available from Wycombe District Council for homes and businesses, in the form of a council tax rebate. See their website for details.
If your house in unoccupied, tell Police so they can keep an eye out when they are patrolling the area. Residents are also urged to remember that the amount of work that needs doing presents opportunities for rogue traders - you don’t need to pay for your sandbags to be removed (the Council are collecting locally for free) and beware of unsolicited requests to repair your drive or house.
Another concern, raised by both residents and visitors to bankside areas that were stricken by flooding, is the question of what can be done about contaminated soil. The answer, according to Thames Water, is to simply let nature take its course.
A statement issued from the CAB said: "UV light breaks down and kills harmful bacteria. At this time of year, it takes just 13 days for turf or clay and 20 days for soil, sand, shingle or bark, to be free of the harmful bacteria. If you have any crops, then you can consume the fruit or vegetables after cooking, but you should destroy anything that can only be eaten raw. After the 13-20 days you can once again sew and cultivate your plot."
Finally, stricken residents are reminded to make sure they tell their insurers about the situation, if they have not done so already, who can provide both financial and practical support.
Anyone still in need of advice about what to do next, problems with insurers, housing, tenancy and landlord rights, money or employment issues related to the flooding, call the local CAB Flood Advice Line which is still operational, on 0333 240 8252.
You can get advice either by phone, or an appointment can be made with an Adviser in High Wycombe or Marlow. General advice on any topic can also be found by calling Adviceline on 0844 2451289 or at www.adviceguide.org.uk.
Citizens Advice Bureau provide free, confidential, impartial and independent advice. High Wycombe & District CAB is also recruiting for volunteers and staff. If you wish to develop new skills whilst contributing to your community, see the information on www.highwycombecab.org.uk