UK & World News

  • 11 February 2014, 6:45

Flood-Hit Ham Island Residents Appeal For Help

Flooded residents on Ham Island are desperate for sandbags as well as Army assistance as they hope a retaining wall holding back the River Thames does not collapse.

Around 100 residents living in the 37 private dwellings on the man-made land mass beside Old Windsor in Berkshire are used to flooding, but they have never seen anything like this.

The water is waist-deep in places and there are fears it will rise further in the coming days, leaving homeowners little option but to salvage what they can and evacuate.

Postman Tony Mills has delivered to the island for 27 years. But it's now impassable. "I've never seen it as bad as this," he said. "Never, ever seen it as bad as this."

All that is holding the community together, it seems, is flood warden and islanderGillie Bolton.

Weaving in between flooded homes in her waders, she co-ordinates canoes to evacuate residents and deliver chemical toilets to homeowners who have been unable to flush their lavatories for weeks.

Her phone constantly rings with calls from people looking for advice and assistance, or residents who have already evacuated who are anxious for updates about the water level.

"I try to help look after everybody who lives here," she says. "We're getting no support. We feel like a neglected community at the moment, we're desperate.

"What we really need now is help from the authorities and we're just not getting that."

Ms Bolton's main concern is a retaining wall running from her garden to the end of the island. On the other side the Thames churns past at a frightening speed.

"We're so concerned about the whole of this wall giving way. There are four houses here we're really concerned about. If this wall breaches then we have no idea what's going to happen.

"What we need is help. We're putting more barriers here to try and keep the wall in place, but we need the Army and we need sandbags to do this."

A few doors away resident David Kidd stands waist-deep in the water staring blankly around him. The ground floor of his riverside home is all but destroyed.

"We've been tying everything down to make sure it doesn't float away," he said. "When we flooded a few weeks ago the floor survived, but not this time. We've just got to wait and see what happens.

"Our big problem is the Jubilee River (a channel built to take overflow from the Thames). We're right at the bottom of it. It just seems to be opened without any controls. If you go up to Maidenhead you'll see the river is well below the bank.

"Gillie the flood warden has been fantastic. Running around making sure everyone is all right and chasing up sandbags. She has a 24-hour job at the moment."

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.

Advertisement