The South Ribble pensioners who have to "hump sandbags" whenever there is heavy rain

An elderly woman living on a flood-prone street in Lostock Hall says she is forced to shift heavy sandbags into place outside her home every time there is a prolonged period of heavy rain.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 5:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th July 2021, 5:38 pm

Doris Johnson, who is 81, has to spring into action whenever the skies darken over her house on Marina Grove in an attempt to prevent the water that accumulates on the residential road from flowing onto her property.

However, her efforts do nothing to stop flood water pumping up from a drain on her driveway, which Doris believes happens as a result of a drain in the street being unable to cope with a deluge.

After anything more than 20 minutes of persistent and heavy rain, the house is surrounded by several inches of standing water - which also inundates the car port on the property.

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Marina Grove residents Doris and Harold Johnson are doing whatever they can to protect their property from flooding - but it can be an exerting business

Doris says that both she and her 82-year-old husband Harold are in poor health, but she is the only one physically capable of reacting to the threat of a flood - and cleaning up the detritus it leaves in its wake.

“The main problem is what it pumps up through the little drain on our property from the main drain outside - this thick black muck and sludge, which is obviously unhygienic.

“Then I have to scrub and jet it away once the water has subsided. It’s the manual [strain] of having to do that and hump sandbags around.

“You can't go out of your back door unless you put your wellies on - and we have a little dog that needs to go out there.

The scenes during a recent period of heavy rain on Marina Grove

“The stress has been awful - it's very difficult having to cope with it all,” Doris explains.

It is a familiar feeling of dread for her next door neighbours of more than 40 years, retired couple Michael and Ann Quinlan.

While surface flooding on the road itself has been commonplace for several years, it has only been in the last 12 months that the water has come so close to their homes - with about a dozen incidents late last year.

Michael had hoped that work undertaken by the county council had cured the problem - only to end up “back at square one” when it reoccurred over two consecutive days earlier this month.

The sludge left behind after a flooding incident on Marina Grove

Although the water has yet to find its way into their homes, Michael fears it is only a matter of time.

“It preys on your mind and dominates your thinking - you're constantly watching the weather forecast.

“Owain [Wyn Evans, BBC North West weather presenter] has become the big draw for me on the TV - I watch him more intently than anyone else.

“When it looked like it was going to chuck it down earlier this week, my wife had to put the sandbags out before we went to bed. I’m not fit to lift them, but it’s no good for her either.”

Sandbags at the ready on Marina Grove - Lancashire County Council says it is attempting to find a more permanent solution to the flooding problems on the road

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that an assessment carried out by the county council last year concluded that the drains in the immediate area were running clear.

Ridwan Musa, highways manager for Lancashire County Council said: "We know how distressing it can be to live with the risk of flooding and are working to resolve the problems affecting some residents of Marina Grove.

"We have carried out initial investigations into this issue, and believe it is likely being caused by problems with the flow of the underground watercourses, some of them privately owned, which our highway drains feed into.

"Our Flood Risk team is currently working to schedule further detailed investigatory work which is needed to identify where these problems are, which will then allow us to contact the relevant landowner to pursue a permanent solution."

Penwortham East and Walton-le-Dale county councillor Joan Burrows, who has been assisting the two couples since she was first alerted to the problem last August, urged a swift resolution from highways bosses.

“I believe the flooding is not just a blight on the lives of the Quinlans and the Johnsons, but it is putting their health at risk - as well as being a safety risk for them and other neighbours.

County Cllr Joan Burrows pictured by a wall that the Johnsons have had built across much of their driveway in an attempt to reduce the opportunity for water to find its way onto their property

“I am now being told that the flooding could be as a result of a blocked culverted watercourse and this is being investigated. My message to the county council workforce is strong - my allegiance is to the residents and this disgraceful situation cannot continue any longer, it must be sorted without delay,” County Cllr Burrows said.

Several properties are regularly surrounded with water during heavy rain