Published: 06:00, 06 February 2021
An animal rescue centre has been hit with flooding after a very rainy start to the year.
Fire engines had to be called to Retreat into Wonderland in Bullockstone Road, Herne Bay, after water began seeping into a large stable that houses farm animals.
The sanctuary was already in the process of searching for a bigger plot of land, having outgrown its current two-acre site.
But the flooding - which has left “lakes” of water up to knee-deep in some areas - has compounded the situation and the owners are now urgently seeking a new home.
The sanctuary was founded about four-and-a-half years ago by animal lovers Jo Hogbin and Jen Silk, and is home to dozens of creatures ranging from rabbits and ducks, to pigs, sheep, and Shetland ponies.
Jo explained that during winter puddles have always gathered on the land, which was formerly surrounded by Herne Bay Golf Club. But she says the situation appears to have worsened in recent years, since Redrow started construction of a 580-home estate on the former golf course. The developers says tests have ruled out any link.
“This year, the flooding’s got to the point where we were like ‘oh my god, how the hell are we going to help?’” Jo said. “It’s been really bad.
“Jen digs holes up to her shoulders just to get rid of some of the water, so it leaves the enclosures. So we’ve got holes everywhere. It really is carnage - it’s awful.
“In my eyes it’s drainage we need, because the water doesn’t have anywhere to go. It’s been built over.”
RedRow maintains the flooding is due to depressions in the land, rather than drainage issues caused by the development.
On Saturday, the flooding grew so severe the fire service had to be called in.
“We have a big double stable and the water started to seep up through the floor,” said Jo. “That’s our one really big dry area for all the large animals.”
Last Saturday two fire engines and an animal rescue unit were sent to the scene, where crews helped move animals to safety.
“We try and do everything positive - we don’t like negativity,” explained Jo. “The whole world is negative at the moment, and we’ve got our problems but so has everyone else.
“But we just need more land, and for it to be dryer. I don’t want to need Noah’s Ark!”
Jo says the Community Interest Company hopes to rent or buy a new plot of about six acres.
“More or less is fine, as long as it’s more space than what we’ve got,” she said. “If we had more land we could have a bigger car park, and do more with the community.”
Responding to the situation, Mark Becker, technical director at Redrow South East, said: “We understand that unfortunately the land occupied by the animal sanctuary contains a number of depressions which allow heavy rain to pool in certain areas.
“The rainwater from our adjacent community of homes is disposed of via a positive surface drainage system and following our investigations, has not shown to be the cause of the flooding. Despite this, we are reaching out to the landowner to see if we can provide assistance in any way.”
To donate to Retreat into Wonderland, or to get in touch about available land, visit its website.