A Derbyshire couple had their pristine back garden washed away twice in four months after a burst water main left it under three feet of water. Anthony and Dawn Harper woke up to see three concrete posts ripped out in their garden in Fritchley, near Belperby a torrent of water coming from a main which had burst overnight.
On Friday, May 13, repairs to their back garden were finally completed but on Monday, May 16, the same thing happened again and the garden was once again ruined and four concrete posts ripped out. Mr Harper, 63, said that when Severn Trent arrived to fix the problem, a staff member told him that they “didn’t know what buttons to press” to turn the water off, a task which wasn’t completed for four hours.
The couple’s next door neighbors had their whole house flooded in January and after living in temporary accommodation with their young daughter for several months will have to extend their stay after it was flooded again earlier this week. Mr Harper has also claimed that new sensors fitted after the first burst failed when the problem happened again.
Mr Harper said: “We woke up and saw a river of water coming out of the footpath next to our house, and we couldn’t believe it as it wasn’t raining. We looked to the back garden and it was flooded, and had punched three concrete fence posts down, all the water flooded into next door with our topsoil, plants, belongings and contents of the shed.
“It was like the River Trent coming down the footpath. We found out the water main had burst from our neighbor. It was devastating to us as we didn’t know it was likely to happen. The greenhouse was flooded, the shed was flooded .
“We spent all morning putting sandbags out stopping it coming into our house, as it came within an inch of flooding our house. Severn Trent came round and were very slow at coming and doing things.”
The pipes are believed to be connected to the Ambergate Water Reservoir at Crich, but a neighbor who has lived on the street for 40 years told Mr Harper that there had never been a problem prior to January, the first incident. While Severn Trent paid to repair the garden, it only offered second-hand value for items that were damaged, such as lawnmowers.
Mr Harper, a retired policeman, was told that it cost £ 7,000 for the lawn to be relaid, but at around 5am on Monday, May 16, Mr and Mrs Harper woke up to the sound of drains rattling. They immediately checked their back garden to see the issue had happened a second time.
He now has concerns that someone could be hurt or even killed if the burst was to happen a third time during the day, given the pressure of the water.
Mr Harper said: “It was finished on Friday evening and we couldn’t believe we had got everything back to normal. I woke up on Monday, looked out of the window and saw another four fence posts down, shed flooded, all the turf that had been laid was washed away, and we were right back to square one.
“You can understand the first one, but I have to put it down to incompetence for it to happen twice in four months. We’re in fear of opening our curtains in the morning, as if it has happened twice it can happen again.
“They just need to get the pipes redone. They are Victorian pipes that have passed their best. We shouldn’t be put in fear like this. It has had such a dramatic effect on your life, my wife is depressed about it as you could expect. We show our garden every year at the Horsley and Fritchley Open Gardens, but now there is no chance.
“We have got such a beautiful garden that we have worked so hard on, it was a building site when we moved in and we have put such a lot of work into it. We love sitting in the garden and entertaining people, and it’s just depressing to go outside and see all the devastation. “
Mr Harper says that Severn Trent has said that it will test the pipes but claims it was “woefully unprepared” for the issue.
A spokesperson for Severn Trent said: “We apologise to the customers affected by the recent burst pipe in Critch Common.
“We were notified at 5am on Monday morning that there was a 24-inch pipe burst in a field just off The Common. Our teams quickly mobilized to isolate the burst and get those without water back on supply as of 9am that morning.
“Our community relationship teams were in the area that morning, speaking with those affected, and have been in regular contact ever since.
“We’ve been in regular contact with Mr and Mrs Harper to help make sure things are going as smoothly as possible with the insurance process, as well as providing garden center vouchers to immediately cover items that have been lost, as we know how much their garden means to them.
“We will look to compensate customers affected following this burst, and again we apologise to everyone affected as we know how distressing any type of flooding can be.”