Chingford News

Highams Park residents shellshocked after worst flash flood in 60 years

Residents who had lived next to the river for over half a century said nothing like this had ever happened before
By Local Democracy Reporter Josh Mellor

The Ching overflowed and turned local roads into
The Ching overflowed and turned local roads into “torrents”

Highams Park residents are stunned after flash flooding hit the area for “the first time in sixty years” this week.

On Thursday afternoon, heavy rain saw the Ching Brook overflow its banks, submerging the nearby roundabout and sending fast-flowing water down local roads

The government issued a flood warning for the Ching shortly before 6pm, which ended later that evening when river levels dropped once more. 

The following day, some of the worst hit residents in Waterhall Avenue – which runs alongside the brook – had their doors wide open and were drying carpets in the sun.

Lifelong resident Trevor Banks (credit: LDRS)

Trevor Banks, 57, a black cab driver who was born on Waterhall Avenue, said: “During the 70s, the Ching would sometimes overflow but the furthest it came up was the garden, 10ft from the front door.

“Then they dredged it and that cured it – I’ve lived in this area my whole life and never seen it do that.

“It was just flowing down the street, I think the road acted like a drain to take it away. At six o’clock, it was like a river and by half nine it was all gone.”

Josh Lyons, whose home is beside the Ching at lower end of Waterhall Avenue, captured a video of the water flowing at speed across his drive.

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(Credit: Josh Lyons)

He added: “It’s not what you want to see one year after buying a house. We thought the stream was part of the charm of the place… but last night I thought ‘f*** the stream’.”

A man in his late 70s, who asked not to be named, said he’d lived next to the river for 60 years and “never seen anything like that before”.

He added: “It just kept running, the whole road was covered and the water reached the top of the car tyres.

“A lot of my stuff flowed away down the river… the garden is just saturated.”

A man in his late 30s, who also asked not to be named, said he worked in flood alleviation for a neighbouring local authority and believed the river levels were record-breaking.

He explained: “The river had come up to the top of the bridge, it was 2.5m deep, normally it’s 0.3m, the maximum it’s ever been is 1.3m.”

“It’s got to be the drought, we’ve had bad rains but nothing like that.”

Two neighbours who described themselves as “pissed off Highams Park residents” questioned whether the street drains had been cleared by the council and said they hadn’t seen a street sweeper in “years”.

A resident bailing flood water out of their home

Waltham Forest Council’s deputy leader Ahsan Khan said he saw the flood damage first hand yesterday and residents and businesses were “rightfully worried”.

He added: “Following last year’s extreme weather, we have proactively taken steps to install urban drainage systems and rain gardens to alleviate the effects of extreme weather and we will continue to work to identify places where these measures may help protect residents.

“Council officers have worked closely with Thames Water colleagues following the severe weather.

“We have visited over 40 areas affected by flooding as part of the effort to assist hundreds of residents during an emergency situation.”

The council’s spokesperson said gullies are now cleaned at least twice a year and high priority areas receive “extra attention”.

Council officers are understood to have checked gullies in high risk areas from Monday 15th August, when rains were forecast.

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