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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Kent put on flood alert on saturated ground as high winds predicted for the county

01 January 2014
by KentOnline reporter
Traffic around the QEII bridge was tonight getting back to normal after it was closed for five hours in high winds.
It was the second time in just three days the key bridge connecting Kent and Essex was shut due to high winds.
The site was shut at 3pm, but didn't reopen until just after 8pm.
The Dartford Crossing was closed amid high winds

The Dartford Crossing has been closed amid high winds

It comes after experts warned of the risk of further flooding today, as several millimetres of rain fall on already saturated ground. 
The Met Office issued the alert for today, with some heavy rain spreading north-eastwards.
Coastguard teams use boats to rescue the stranded at Yalding. Picture Medway Coastguard

Coastguard teams use boats to rescue the stranded at Yalding. Picture: Medway Coastguard

Rainfall could reach as much as 30mm over some south-facing coasts and hills, the experts say.
But it could feel worse than that, with winds gusting up to 60mph on coasts and hills.
The gloomy prediction comes as one woman hit by last week's floods has spoken out about the treatment meted out to her and her neighbours.
Ericka Olivares, 49, publicly challenged prime minister David Cameron last week when he toured Yalding to see the flood damage.
She said she felt abandoned by the council - and it was only after the visit from Prime Minister that the relief efforts started to take shape. 
Rescue in Yalding during the recent flooding. Picture Medway Coastguard

Firefighters rescue caravan park residents in Yalding during the last floods in December. Picture: Medway Coastguard

She said: “Christmas Day was spent upstairs; myself, my husband, my two children and six dogs were on the first floor of our cottage. 

“We had absolutely nothing to eat, nothing to drink apart from a few snacks we managed to save from the kitchen because when we tried to get down the stairs literally the whole of the bottom floor was just over waist deep in water with our furniture floating about. 

“The only people we saw on Christmas Day were a couple of volunteers going up and down on the river just to make sure everyone was OK, but nobody official at all. It really was bad. 

“I can’t even believe what we’ve gone through. A few days on and it just seems so surreal as to actually what happened and what it looked like when I was looking out my window on Christmas Day. 

David Cameron meets Yalding villagers during a visit to flood-hit sites

David Cameron meets Yalding villagers during a visit to flood-hit sites

“We had nothing, absolutely nothing. We tried to get through to the council, but everyone was on holiday. The Environment Agency said they couldn’t help us. We were literally abandoned.”

Mrs Olivares, who went four days without power over Christmas, challenged the Prime Minister on his visit to the village on Friday to complain about the lack of efforts made by the council. 

She said: “I confronted David Cameron and since then everything has gone crazy around here. I can’t fault the people that work for the council because they have been absolutely fantastic.

"The power company was very good as well; they tried to get everybody back on to the electric as quickly as possible. 

Ericka Olivares

Ericka Olivares

“If he [David Cameron] hadn’t turned up I don’t know what would have happened. Our local councillors were next to useless. That’s the way, not just myself, but a lot of the villagers think.” 

Mrs Olivares also said neither the Environment Agency nor insurance companies were providing dehumidifiers or heaters to affected homes, and is now worried it will take ages for houses to dry out. 

She added: “Last time this happened, the Environment Agency were supplying people with dehumidifiers and heaters. But apparently they don’t do that any further. Our insurance company won’t pay for them. 

“Without dehumidifiers, without heaters everyone’s homes are going to stay damp.

Mrs Olivares's outburst comes as Kent Police Commissioner Ann Barnes praised the community spirit shown by residents in the affected areas.

Kent police commissioner Ann Barnes

Kent police commissioner Ann Barnes

She said her heart went out to the families "who have had the misfortune of being affected by the terrible gales and heavy rain that have hit our corner of the country.
"For them, it has been an unforgettable Christmas - for all the wrong reasons.
“The only people we saw on Christmas Day were a couple of volunteers going up and down on the river just to make sure everyone was OK, but nobody official at all. It really was bad" - Ericka Olivares
It is a dreadful thing to see your home and possessions wrecked by flood water, but for this to happen at Christmas, when we are all thinking about sharing happy times at home with family and friends, is truly horrendous.
"Hundreds of families have had to leave their homes as a result of flooding or power cuts – a living nightmare.
"My thoughts are with all those people affected but particularly in the hardest-hit areas in Yalding, Mereworth and Tonbridge."
Mrs Barnes praised the police's response as "professional and quick", and said it was heartening to hear of community spirit, and people helping each other in hard times.

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