7:41pm Friday 7th February 2014
A STRANDED woman feels no-one cares whether she lives or dies as she is marooned in her cottage by flood water with storms on the way.
Jacky Smith of Severn Cottage, Lanes End, Kempsey is stuck in her home on the banks of the Severn, where she lives alone, as the waters continue to rise around her. She was so cut off her friend and neighbour, Sue Price (pictured), could not even wade out to her in wellies.
Another band of heavy rain with coastal gales was due to sweep in during yesterday (Friday) evening, moving quickly east across the UK early tomorrow (Saturday). This is expected to be followed by frequent heavy and squally showers with further disruption due to flooding likely, say the Met Office.
The 57-year-old, who has not been able to leave her home since Wednesday, said: "I am marooned. The flooding has got a lot worse since they put the pumps in. The neighbours have also had to put sandbags at the gate." She said the £1.7 million flood defences which opened in July 2012 and protect 70 homes do not protect her home. She says the defences guard against flooding from the Hatfield Brook rather than directly from the river and, if anything, make things worse for her by pumping excess water from the brook back into the Severn.
She said: "No-one at the Environment Agency has contacted me to make sure I am okay. As far as they know I could be dead or alive down here. They're busy running backwards and forwards to the pumps and patting themselves on the back for that. I am fed up. It's just been constant since the middle of December.
"I have had only half a dozen days when I have been able to get out of my property. I feel like I'm in the middle of the river and that the Environment Agency hasn't bothered. I haven't reported it but they should know. I can see the water rising. It's going up all the time. I'm hoping against hope that it doesn't come over the defences. If it comes over my flood doors and into the house again I will throw my keys in the river and walk away."
The property has two 'hermetically sealed' steel flood doors but the water is already several inches up the side and rising fast. Her son has been able to get her essentials but she says she struggles even to climb over the flood doors because she suffers from osteoarthritis. She paid £25,000 for the home's flood defences, including having the walls sealed with plastic, flood doors and a pump installed while she says others, who have not paid a penny, are protected by the main defences.
One of the pumps which clears water from the Hatfield Brook and pumps it back into the River Severn kicked in automatically yesterday (Friday) but a team from the Environment Agency has been on site in Kempsey, 24 hours a day, since Christmas Eve. Their job is to monitor water levels and activate the pumps manually if the automatic system fails.
A spokesman for the EA said: "The lady concerned at Severn Cottage, Lanes End is located in the part of Kempsey village outside that covered by the flood alleviation scheme. Being undefended, they flood as the river Severn rises across the flood plain. We have checked and can confirm that this property is not registered on our full flood warning service (awareness of the service is high in the village of Kempsey should they want to register).
"Without knowing her telephone number we do not know whether she has opted out of the extended warning direct system, where a national initiative registered land lines of properties in the flood plain. Worcestershire fire and rescue are available if she needs rescue support."
The Hatfield Brook is expected to peak at between 6.95m and 7.15m on Monday.
The latest flood warning information, updated every 15 minutes, along with advice on how to prepare for flooding, can be found at environment-agency.gov.uk/flood. Readers can sign up for free flood warnings on the EA website or by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188 / 0845 988 1188
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