Councillor’s Corner-Rainham Floods: Lessons learnt?


South Hornchurch Independent Councillor Graham Williamson today writes in the Havering Daily.

Many people will now be aware, whether they suffered or not, that the borough was hit by an unusually heavy downpour of rain last Saturday evening/Sunday morning. 

What is also clear however is that it was largely the South of the borough, especially Rainham, that flooded resulting in serious damage to properties and vehicles, whether business or residential. There will have been many insurance claims lodged and tears shed over the weekend.

The Council seems to have been caught out by the downpour and there are reports that calls to the emergency line were not treated with respect i.e. claiming that ‘we can’t do anything about rain’, and ultimately was disconnected, presumably because they couldn’t cope. 

The Fire Brigade tried their best to help but ran out of sandbags and struggled to obtain more from the Council. Clearly it wasn’t a good day for LBH.

Why? 

But why was the South, especially Rainham, worst hit?

The Council leader suggested it is down to more concreted drives but that phenomenon is all over the borough and most other areas didn’t suffer. He also suggested that some National Rail land is overgrown but the problem didn’t occur just around that site. In reality we have to assume that the drains in the south simply couldn’t handle the amount of water generated.

My main concern however is that it will only get worse with all the planned new builds and a deadly combination of climate change, floodplain and concrete will only make each incident more severe than the last.

Consequence of over-development?

For example, the New Road section of South Hornchurch was partially flooded too and over the next few years will see at least 3,000 properties being built along either side. This is a relatively small stretch of land so the density of properties will be extremely high and will see countless tons of concrete put onto a floodplain. There are technical means to control the flow of rainwater into the drains but, given the Mayor and Government’s desire to build as many properties as possible, some planners/developers may turn a blind eye to flooding risks and hope for the best.  

Mitigation measures

In the meantime I will be urgently bringing this issue up again with officers to see what mitigation measures can be introduced by Council or other bodies. They/we have been warned and action will certainly be required to avoid future gridlocks, damage, claims and ultimately rising insurance premiums!

South Hornchurch Independent Resident Councillor Graham Williamson

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