North London floods return – with South End Green deluged again
Michael Boniface and Sam Volpe
- Credit: Wasel Ali
Floods returned to north London on Sunday – only two weeks after the area was deluged by downpours.
South End Green was again faced with heavy rain from storms on July 25, with Park Road and Finchley Road also badly affected.
Residents were faced with damage to their properties as businesses scrambled to install emergency measures to stem the tide, including Audio Gold in Muswell Hill.
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq called it "extremely concerning" to see more flooding in South End Green weeks after the recent floods.
The MP said: “Many of my constituents are going through hell as a result of floods which should never have happened.
“I have written repeatedly to Thames Water about this and will continue to raise it to ensure that our local drainage systems are sufficient to deal with heavy rainfall."
In South End Green, residents described their sense of déja vu. At Paradise Hampstead, Wasel Ali called the latest flooding an "absolute disaster".
He said: "What can I say, something's not quite right. The drains were backing up and the council have to do something about it. It's beyond a joke someone needs to put some measures in place
"It wasn't as bad as last time, and we have the most amazing customers, but I really am concerned. The basement floor had just about dried out, we've just had the loss adjusters."
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He said the issue now was a lack of confidence in whether this would happen again, and that meant it felt like replacing previously damaged doors "could well just be a waste of time and money".
"I know it rained hard, but the drains should be sufficient to take the water away," he added. "My heart just sank again when I saw what was happening."
Richard Katz, of Keats Grove, said: "We were badly affected again. Basically it was a precise repetition of what happened two weeks ago. I know other parts of London have been affected but for us, just two weeks after, it's difficult.”
Richard, 80, said the floods two weeks ago meant he and his wife had been forced to buy a new washing machine, and he said it was impossible to get insurance to cover flooding in his street.
Hampstead Town councillor Oliver Cooper called the floods "devastating", and said they showed the "absolute importance" of replacing the area's Victorian water mains pipes.
"Camden must ensure that Thames Water can replace their pipes when other works are done – whether broadband, gas, or Camden's own street works," Cllr Cooper said.
"That would speed up the replacement of these archaic pipes and prevent flooding in future."
Camden Council said its priority was to support residents and businesses ravaged by the floods.
Its cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Adam Harrison, said the recent problems showed the need for authorities to work together to deal with extreme weather – and that the climate emergency "is already having a real impact".
In Haringey, Muswell Hill councillor Scott Emery (Lib Dem) said the clearance of drains in flood-prone areas should have been prioritised after the previous floods.
"This would have helped to reduce heavily localised issues," he said. "With more rain expected this week, these gullies need to be cleared immediately.
“With climate change expected to make extreme weather events more common, it's equally important that Thames Water and Haringey Council look at the underlying infrastructure to ensure that it can cope with heavy rains such as those seen this month, including the number of culverts we have in the borough."
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West called the downpours "devastating" for residents and businesses "already cleaning up from the flash flooding".
"We have to see the increasing number of these events as a wake-up call for governments to be bolder in cutting emissions and improving resilience, with further freak weather events likely if we do not act now to halt the rise in global temperatures," Ms West said.
Cllr Peray Ahmet, Haringey Council's leader, said the latest floods were "further evidence" of the climate emergency.
She said that officers "responded immediately" to clear gullies and provide support to residents.
“Going forward, we will of course look to see if there’s more we need to do," Cllr Ahmet said.
The leader added: “We are also investing in ‘sustainable drainage systems,’ which reduce the amount of water that needs to go into London’s Victorian sewer systems."
In Westminster, which faced torrid troubles from flooding a fortnight ago, Cllr Geoff Barraclough (Lab, Maida Vale) called for an urgent long-term plan.
He told the Ham&High: “Fortunately, last night’s torrential rain didn’t cause anything like the damage we saw on 12 July but it’s clear that our Victorian drains can’t cope with the weather in 2021.
“We urgently need Westminster Council and Thames Water to investigate what went wrong and produce a plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“This needs to include more regular drain cleaning but also support for residents and businesses to flood-proof their properties.”
Tom Rees, one of the landlords of the Carlton Tavern in Carlton Vale - which also flooded again - told this paper: "It wasn't as bad as last time, but I can't quite believe we've had absolutely no information about what's being done.
"It's just frustrating that this might happen every time it rains for all we know, and we don't hear from Thames Water. All we really want to hear from is 'this worked' or 'this didn't'.
"It's not the end of the world for us if our basement floods, but I feel really sorry for people living in basement flats and having soft furnishings ruined."
Adding that he wanted to see some "proactive information" from the council and Thames Water, Tom continued: "For us it's just the time we need to spend cleaning.
The Hampstead Heath bathing ponds have reopened, after closing following the extreme weather on Sunday.
A Thames Water spokesperson said: “We sympathise with everyone effected by yesterday’s torrential rain and flooding. We had extra staff on standby overnight and have offered support to the local authority emergency planning teams, who lead on surface flooding, but so far we’ve not been called up as part of their response.
“We have crews out today across London checking our sewers for blockages, which can often form following heavy rain and surface flooding when debris can get washed into the pipes, and will stay in touch with all flood partners in case we’re needed.”