THESE pictures show the devastating effects of floods which tore through around 23 homes in Eltham on Christmas Eve and have forced some families to move out for up to six months.
Residents of Westhorne Avenue were woken up in the early hours of Christmas Eve to a “living nightmare” when up to three feet of water flooded houses along the River Quaggy after heavy rainfall.
Christmas and New Year celebrations had to be cancelled while freezing, dirty water was pumped out of homes with some families moving out and others told they need to rent properties while repairs are carried out.
Rosemary Clay’s ground floor was devastated in the flooding with furniture and curtains ruined and she now faces up to six months renting another property.
The 63-year-old said: “It’s just been a total living nightmare.
“At 2am the police woke me up and said ‘you are going to get flooded’.
“Then the nightmare began. By 3.30am we were in three feet of water. It was terrible.
“It was freezing, dirty water that we were standing in. It came over my knees.”
Mrs Clay, who lives with her husband Brian and 26-year-old son, says she has been told the dirty water might have contaminated the property and seeped into wood panelling.
Residents claim the area has not been flooded for years and believe the cause of the problem was a barricade blocked with debris.
They also say they did not have much help following the flood and criticised the Environment Agency, which is responsible for the barricade, and Greenwich Council.
Mrs Clay added: “The grill was blocked. We have lived here for many years and it has not flooded.
“If that had been cleared, I don’t think this would have happened. We have lived here with worse weather conditions - something went wrong and we need to know what.”
A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency says the flooding was due to rainfall being higher than nearby Sutcliffe Park and Weigal Road reservoirs were designed to hold.
She confirmed eight properties had flooded but said the total was likely to be higher and urged people affected to contact on 01732 2223224 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fred Seago, 76, who lives with his wife Kathleen, 56, and 83-year-old mother-in-law were preparing to host Christmas but had to cancel and clean up with friends and relatives instead.
The grandfather-of-nine said: “We normally have Christmas here – that had to be cancelled. New Year was spoilt and Christmas was spoilt.
“We make it a Christmas to remember but this year it was a Christmas to remember for bad things rather than good things.”
The father-of-four says around 23 houses flooded with 30 affected by the water and some residents unable to move back.
He added: “Generally I feel there has been a lack of care.”
A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said: “Sutcliffe Park flood storage reservoir was built in 2003 to reduce the impact of flooding to properties in Eltham and Kidbrooke.
“The scheme works by diverting and impounding water from the River Quaggy in a reservoir when flows and depths reach a certain level. Once flows drop again, we gradually release the impounded water from the reservoir.
“During the event of 23 and 24 December both the Sutcliffe Park and Weigal Road (downstream on the Quaggy) reservoirs impounded successfully.
“The Sutcliffe Park reservoir filled to its maximum capacity. Despite this, flooding occurred as the rainfall received was significantly higher than the reservoirs were designed to hold.
“We check that local culverts and weed screens are clear of debris regularly, for example at Eltham Palace, where we inspect them each Friday.
“We carry out additional inspections in the run up to forecast rain and I can confirm we were on site on Monday 23, Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 December.
“On each occasion we cleared debris from the screens although on 25 December we were unable to access the screens due to the amount of floodwater.”
A Greenwich Council spokesman said: “The council fully appreciates how distressing it must have been for householders to have their homes flooded, especially just before Christmas.
“The storms of December 23 led to numerous calls for our assistance, and council staff were on duty from the early hours, dealing with incidents across the borough, including floods, fallen trees and roof damage.
“A response team was sent to Westhorne Avenue. Offers to relocate residents were made but not taken up.
The council liaised and engaged with the Environment Agency which is responsible for flood protection measures along the River Quaggy.
"At the same time, the council liaised with the Fire and Police Services, supplied a gully sucker to help in clearing the floodwater and checked nearby drains to ensure they were running freely.
"We offered to evacuate any residents who required it, but none took up that offer.
“In the light of the serious nature of this flooding, the council has been in contact again with the Environment Agency to seek urgent action to improve flood protection in the vicinity of these homes and to improve the maintenance of the culvert, and the grid that protects the opening to the culvert.”