EFFORTS are underway to ease the fears of hundreds of residents who claim their homes are at risk of flooding.
Ever since heavy rains hit the region last September, homeowners in Dairy Lane, Houghton, have been demanding improvements to the estate to prevent the ongoing problems.
Residents claim poor drainage means there is nowhere for the floodwaters to go, and it is not unusual to see firefighters on the estate having to pump away excess water.
Now, they have met Bridget Phillipson, Houghton and Sunderland South MP, to discuss the problem.
Anne Bailes, 66, of Longacre, said: “My garage and garden were flooded, but it didn’t get into the house. The backstreet was all flooded as well, you couldn’t even get cars out.
“It just comes out of the drains. I’ve been here 20 years, my neighbour has been here for 40, and we’ve never seen flooding like this. There’s just nowhere for the water to go.
“The drainage is horrible here, the pipes are too small to hold all of the water.
“The fire brigade sometimes come down to pump away the water, but most people here have their own pumps now. For the first time in September, it came over the front step. It just happens so quick.
“Last weekend it was really frightening, next door were nearly flooded out again, but it’s happened that many times now. Everyone just panics now when it rains.
“You just can’t sleep. I bought two floodgates to protect the house, one in the front and one for the conservatory.”
Ms Phillipson has been contacting agencies to see what efforts are underway to solve the problems.
She said: “Residents from Longacre and Airey’s Close, Dairy Lane came to see me to discuss the problems they have had with flooding in the homes and gardens.
“I fully appreciate how distressing it is to have your home flooded, and understand the difficulties the residents have experienced.
“Unfortunately, the cause of flooding in the Dairy Lane area is not straightforward and, therefore, it is essential that the agencies with responsibility for reducing the flood risk to these properties are working closely together.”
Ms Phillipson says she is aware this is an ongoing problem that has yet to be resolved.
She added: “I’m disappointed some residents have again experienced flooding, but I know the agencies are working together to reduce any future risk.” Mike Madine, Northumbrian Water’s sewerage manager, said: “It is vital that a partnership approach to reduce flooding in this area is taken, and we want to assure residents that we have been working closely with the Environment Agency and Sunderland City Council.
“Since September 2012, we have carried out extensive CCTV surveys in this area, cleansed part of our sewer network and carried out work to increase the speed that surface water is released from our surface water sewer into Moors Burn by the installation of a new flap valve in times of heavy rainfall.
“We are currently carrying out a detailed study to understand how our sewer network in this area copes in different weather conditions. The results of this study, due at the beginning of September, will determine our next actions.”
Marie Fallon, area manager for the North East branch of the Environment Agency, said: “There is further investigations needed at Dairy Lane but we are working with Northumbrian Water to look into this.
“The problems relate to the sewers and field drains. Some work has taken place already. However, it is quite a complex issue. The rain last week showed the work that has so far taken place is working. We are currently waiting for Northumbrian Water to finish their investigation works.”