'Priced out of Havering': Neighbours' fury as premiums soar after flooding

Maria Johnston

Maria said the drains were overwhelmed during last month's heavy rain - Credit: Maria Johnston

Neighbours living on one Romford street have joined forces to campaign for real change following the devastation left by June's heavy rainfall.

About five years after the serious floods in 2016, last month many Taunton Road residents had their homes badly destroyed once again.

Maria Johnston, 49, who lives with her husband and two children, said everything on the ground floor had to be replaced. 

She told this paper: "My nine-year-old son was very upset, and was screaming and crying as the house was submerged in water."

The family’s pet rabbit was almost drowned in its hutch, something she said had happened before. 

Maria Johnston rabbit

Maria ran out to save her rabbit during the flooding - Credit: Maria Johnston

She alleged that the problem has been worsened by new development in the area.

“This house has been there since 1970, and it never had this problem before. 

“We just seem to have been left behind.” 

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Neighbour Barbara Chance has lived in her home for 41 years, also claimed a new estate had exacerbated the problem.

Barbara Chance

Barbara Chance ran from floor to floor trying to save her belongings - Credit: Barbara Chance

Barbara, who lives alone, said she has been left with just one armchair after throwing away her destroyed furniture last month.

The 72-year-old added: “I feel a bit like orphan Annie. 

“It hit me harder this time as I’m that bit older. 

“Running up and down the stairs really knocked it out of me.” 

The neighbours were also frustrated that their road was not included in Havering Council's 143-page report documenting Havering's 2016 floods.

Barbara Chance

People tried to use flood bags to stem the flow - Credit: Barbara Chance

Havering’s cabinet member for environment, Cllr Osman Dervish, said the authority took residents’ concerns “very seriously” and sympathised with every affected resident. 

He added: “Our officers have been out continuously across the borough and will continue to carry out works that will help towards the prevention of flooding. 

“This includes in the Taunton Road and Hitchin Close area, where we again have cleared ditches and are also making sure gullies and storm drains are maintained and in working order. 

“Our officers go out regularly to talk with residents on their concerns over flooding, have cleared damaged furniture from homes and have advised residents in seeking safe alternative accommodation when necessary.” 

Maria Johnston furniture

Maria Johnston had to throw away furniture following the floods. - Credit: Maria Johnston

Another Taunton Road resident, 73-year-old Candy Abbott, had just finished redecorating when the floods hit.

“I have not been lucky these past few years," the cancer survivor said. 

Candy, a mobility-scooter user, had frantically tried to save her pets from the flood water - two dogs, two cats and a litter of puppies. 

“Thank God I was home, because if I hadn’t been, they would have drowned," she said. 

The council tenant said she had been offered a hostel room after the flood, but was not allowed to bring her animals. 

“I won’t go anywhere without them, they’re my babies,” Candy insisted. 

“To be honest, I don’t think the council has any idea what its doing.” 

Barbara Chance hallway

The Taunton Road homes were submerged in water - Credit: Barbara Chance

Neighbour Leanne Base described it as a "nightmare" and accused Havering Council of "incompetence”. 

The mother-of-three said her disabled five-year-old son was particularly traumatised by the flooding. 

“The insurance company said our front room was 98 per cent saturated,” she added. 

“Last time our insurance premium went up, and this time it’s going to shoot up again.” 

Leanne, a Metropolitan Police call handler, and her husband Craig Joseph, a swimming instructor, had hoped to move to a larger property but are now unsure if this will be possible. 

Maria Johnston flood

The ground floor was submerged in water - Credit: Maria Johnston

“The smell in the house is vile, we found dog faeces and old food floating around,” she said. 

“Our property value has decreased massively because of the threat of flooding, and we are being priced out of Havering.” 

Cllr Dervish added: “In this case – unfortunately - there were no warnings and no matter how much we planned, our drainage network could not cope with the sheer amount of rainfall we experienced within a very short space of time. 

“We acknowledge that there are other questions residents in Taunton Road will have and we will be looking into those and will come back to them.