Westquarter residents' flooding nightmare

Neighbours in a Westquarter street have expressed their heartbreak, anger and frustration after their homes were flooded last week.

By Fiona Dobie
Thursday, 20th August 2020, 12:30 pm
Residents' homes and cars were left deep in water after the Westquarter Burn burst its banks.  (pic: Stuart Murray)
Residents' homes and cars were left deep in water after the Westquarter Burn burst its banks. (pic: Stuart Murray)

Just before 5am last Wednesday morning the Westquarter Burn burst its banks sending a torrent of water down the village’s Langton Road and into people’s houses.The water was knee high in some properties and residents say they have lost everything that was downstairs in their homes as a result.Several cars have been written off after being caught in the flood water and logs and other debris was strewn around.Amid the shock and devastation of the events, residents whose homes were affected feel they have been let down by Falkirk Council.Speaking to the Falkirk Herald on Monday residents said they were ‘getting nowhere’ with the local authority.Some of those whose properties were affected are council tenants, while others own their homes, but both groups say they have been left in limbo.They say the communication from the council has been poor and they feel they have been slow in reacting to the situation.Joanne Ure, who rents a council property, said: “The burn burst its banks further up the street and it was like a river coming round the corner. It was like a nightmare come true to be honest and like something you’d see on TV. “The water came into the house too fast to save anything. We were knee high deep in water within ten minutes.“The water was full of mud and silt but the drains can’t cope here and sewage backed up.“When someone came out on Wednesday from the council we were told the roads department would come and drain the water – we’re still waiting on that happening.“The fire head came round that day to check we were okay and within 15 minutes he had an engine here to pump out the water.“Driveway Cleaning Solutions came off their own backs to help clean things up on Thursday. They didn’t have to do that, it wasn’t their job but if it wasn’t for them we’d still be walking about in sewage and mud.“We know people who were flooded in Fife and within 24 or 48 hours the council had brought flood teams in and work was started on some houses, but Falkirk Council is dilly dallying.“The housing officers Lorraine and Sharon have been brilliant and are understanding of what we’re going through and trying to help as much as they can, but they are not the ones making the final decisions. They can only do so much.“Some of us don’t have insurance as companies will not insure our postcode or if they do it is extortionate. Others have insurance but their companies are not paying out. Everyone is in limbo.”Stuart Murray, whose house is opposite the section of the burn where it breached, has experienced damage in every room on the ground floor and has lost his car.He said: “I still feel like I’m in shock, and I’m angry that it’s actually happened. It should never have happened. “There’s a feeling of helplessness right now and the council have not given us any information as we own our house.“It’s this limbo feeling and we can’t do anything just now as we’re going through our insurance company.“When we bought the house we did all the work on it ourselves and it’s really disheartening seeing it all destroyed as quickly as that after putting our time and effort into it.”There has also been anger among the community that the burn was allowed to breach in the first place given its history.Joanne explained: “There were weather warnings in place but we were not given any sandbags as a precaution.“The council actually turned up with sandbags for us on the Wednesday after it had happened.“The houses flooded about 30 odd years ago. After it happened that last time the council promised that it would never happen again, but here we are again. This is the worst I have ever seen it.”Local SNP councillor Adanna McCue has been to speak with residents twice since it happened. She said: “My heartfelt sympathy goes to all our residents that have been effected. It is absolutely horrendous for them. “Although it seemed slow to start I am glad to say Falkirk Council have pulled out all stops and are helping support the families that are having to endure this hardship. “Repairs have already begun in the council houses and they are hoping to have the work completed and families back in their homes as soon as possible. “The council are also looking at ways to help the home owners who have been affected, who are having difficulties with a lack of response from their insurance companies.”A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said yesterday (Wednesday): “Officers have been on site throughout to assist residents, talking to them to identify their individual support needs.“Council tenants who are affected have been offered accommodation in a local hotel, although some of our tenants decided to make their own arrangements and have stayed with family and friends. “We will keep the accommodation needs of tenants under constant review whilst their homes are repaired. “We have also provided financial support to help with the additional costs of living away from home, such as laundry and food.“The affected council properties have been cleared, with skips on site to allow the easy disposal of damaged possessions and excess rubbish caused by the flooding. Work is now underway to repair the properties so that can tenants can return to their homes.”The spokesman added the volume of water last week caused damage to parts of the gabion basket walls edging Westquarter Burn and remedial work will be carried out. The rapid rise in river levels across the area led to the volume of water overwhelming the burn further upstream from this damage.

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The flooding as water started to subside at Langton Rd in Westquarter. (Pic: Scott Louden)

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Residents in Langton Road have been left devastated and angry after their homes were flooded. (Pic: Michael Gillen)
Westquarter Burn burst its banks in the early hours of Wednesday, August 12 sending water flooding into homes on Langton Road. (pic: Stuart Murray)
Dorothy Barr is among those to have lost her family's possessions as a result of the burn bursting its banks. (Pic: Michael Gillen)
The water caused significant damage to people's homes and will take some time to repair.