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Much work to be done, say St Austell flood victims

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

LOOKING BACK: Two years on from when residents in Station Road, St Blazey were left marooned by floodwaters.

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NEARLY two years to the day after the St Austell area was devastated by floodwaters, the victims say authorities have "only scratched the surface" of the issues.

On November 17, 2010, torrential downpours fell from the heavens and murky water poured into houses, leaving some homeless.

On the second anniversary of the disaster, local flood watch groups said there is still much work to do.

"There's always more that can be done," said Barry Wilton, chairman of Mevagissey Flood Group.

"Awareness has increased – people are more aware the village is susceptible to flooding from river and sea.

"But the interesting thing is that since March, when they issued the drought warning, we have had something like 35 flood warnings.

"I think they are crying wolf at the drop of a hat to cover themselves. It's beneficial but I also don't believe the council is clearing out the drains enough."

"Every time we get torrential rain we get them backing up and surface water. I have to go round clearing the drain covers.

"There's a lot of investigation that needs to be done on the old drainage system in Mevagissey. The authorities are all trying but it's only scratching the surface of the problem."

Cornwall Council said it inspects Mevagissey's drains based on risk, so some are inspected annually, some biannually and others twice a year, but inspections are more frequent after weather warnings.

In Pentewan repairs have been carried out to the White River by South West Water, debris-catching fences were installed in the Pentewan Stream and the trash screen at the entrance to Pentewan has been upgraded to reduce the chance of blockage.

A selection of Pentewan houses also received £4,250 each, secured by Cornwall Council, to better protect them from flooding.

But Pentewan flood victim and former engineer Mick Hutchinson said: "In my opinion what they've done isn't enough and it's not the right answer. I don't think it will solve the problem."

He said he and another resident drew up their own plans to unblock the old channel which would divert water to the harbour as an alternative to the works carried out in the stream.

He added: "Through 150 years of the harbour being open, there were never any problems, but that went on deaf ears."

He added: "If the same thing happens again, with torrential rain, we will be flooded, mark my words."

In Par and St Blazey, Charles Richards, from the area's flood action group, said: "A lot of work has been done but the recovery process is still continuing with things being put into place to make the community more resilient against any future floods.

"The real legacy of the Mid-Cornwall floods is about the good things that have come about, the level of community action and engagement, the forming of flood groups with volunteers who can respond to problems and the Cornwall Community Flood Forum."

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