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Home Canterbury News Article
Thoughtless drivers out sight-seeing in the floods and "gawping" at victims are making the problem even worse for beleagured homeowners.
Malcolm Mitchell, who is parish council chairman at Bishopsbourne where part of the main street is flooded, says they are a menace and is urging them to slow down or stay away.
He was speaking after Canterbury MP admitted the risks for the flood hit areas including Barham, Kingston, Bridge, Patrixbourne, Littlebourne Ickham and Wickhambreaux was "precarious".
Mr Mitchell said: "I'm appealing to all drivers, particularly those in Chelsea tractors, to avoid visiting flooded villages along the Elham Valley and beyond.
"We are under enough stress as it is without the constant Flood Safari visitors who drive through the flood water, cameras and smartphones at the ready, gawping at the poor natives as if they were in a zoo park, who are busy pumping out their houses and humping sandbags in desperate attempts to keep the rising tide at bay.
"The constant to and fro of vehicles through Bishopsbourne is nuisance enough in itself, but bow waves caused by their careless speed at which the vehicles drive soaks pedestrians and adds more flood water to already soaked gardens and homes. In my own case the water comes through the front door despite sandbag precautions.
"They also hamper the giant tankers which operate throughout the day helping to keep homes in this village sewage free. The message is clear stay away form all flooded areas because the water levels are only going to worsen."
With more rain forecast this week, hundreds of homes in the villages south of Canterbury remain on a knife edge - often just inches from disaster
There is also concern for the Stour through the city centre which broke its banks in several places at the weekend, flooding car parks and the Westgate Gardens.
A concert at the Marlowe Theatre was interrupted on Saturday night with an announcement that the St Radigund's car park had flooded and car owners might want to move their vehicles.
But the worse hit communities are near the Nailbourne and Little Stour where many homeowners are already pumping out.
Environment Agency emergency teams, firefighters and police are out in force to try and ensure homeowners are safe.
But hundreds of acres of farmland are under water and thousands of sandbags are now all that stand in the way of the misery of being flooded out.
And even they may not be enough because of rapidly rising groundwater levels which forces the water up through floors.
One of the worse hit villages is Bridge where Brewery Lane has been turned into a river.
Teams have been working around the clock to protect homes but they weren't able to stop the water flooding into the home of 86-year-old Jeanne Tapley who has lived in her cottage for more than 60 years.
But the plucky pensioner insists she will not be moving out. Wearing wellies and sat in an armchair raised on bricks in her living room, which was under several inches of water, she said: "I'm not going anywhere.
"I seen it all before when I was flooded in 2001 and I didn't move then either. It's miserable but this time it was anticipated and I moved what I could off the floor and friends put some of my furniture on bricks to raise it up.
"I'll just soldier on because the only way I'm leaving my house is feet first."
She was being checked on by the Red Cross and St John Ambulance whose volunteers are in the village offering support.
A neighbour who lives a few doors away, Ian Ashton added: "We start sandbagging last weekend because we could see this coming.
"So far we've kept the water in the street out but the problem is the rising ground water which you can't."
Mr Ashton, 40, who is catering manager at the Pilgrims Hospice, added: "There's nothing you can do but try and protect your things."
Bridge parish councillor Rob Moon, who is responsible for emergency planning, praised the Environment Agency for its efforts but said it had also brought out the community spirit of the village.
"Everyone is doing what they can do help others, " he said.
There are similar efforts to hold back the floodwaters in surrounding villages and firefighters had to pump out several homes in Patrixbourne.
It was also where a car had to be abandoned after hitting a road closed sign and ending up stuck in deep flood water in Old Palace Road. The vehicle is thought to have been on hire.
Several country lanes around Ickham and Wickhambreaux remain closed because of water pouring off fields. Police are now urging drivers not to ignore the signs and risk driving through deep water.
At Ickham, the soft ground has caused a huge Lebanese cedar tree to come crashing down across the entrance to the Old Rectory.
Villager James Dixey, said: "If the rain continues we will be fighting a losing battle. Already my elderly neighbour, who is quite frail has had to move out because the water has got into his house.
"Wickhambreaux is slightly lower than us and I fear homes there are even more at risk. But I have to say the Environment Agency is doing a first class job, as is the parish council."
Residents of Littlebourne are also under threat and police have been leafleting homes with advice of what they should do if flooded.
County councillor Michael Northey has been touring the worst affected sites which are all in his south Canterbury ward.
He said: "I have been amazed at the community spirit being shown. The Environment Agency is doing a great job but there is only so much you can do if nature decides to unleash its full fury on you."
Canterbury MP Julian Brazier has also been visiting the flooding black spots and says more needs to be done in the future to help alleviate pressure on homes from the water course.
Jenny Donovan from the Environment Agency, said: "Luckily last night we saw the lower ends of the forecast, so 10-12 mm of rain. But that is keeping the larger and lower ends of the catchments full. We will be seeing more rain over the weekend which will keep that topped up.
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