CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Euston flood: Homeless hostel and mosque swamped in water

Bus diversions as Eversholt Street remains closed

13 June, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

THAMES Water has admitted it can “never guarantee” that its pipes will not burst after streets were once again swamped by a broken main.

Nearly 30 residents of a homeless hostel had to be evacuated in Somers Town after a water pipe burst at the weekend – the second time the neighbourhood has faced a deluge in 18 months.

A 16-inch wide pipe burst at about 6am on Saturday, flooding more than 20 properties, some with water up to three metres deep.

A large part of Eversholt Street has remained closed this week.

The burst was metres away from the spot where the same pipe burst in October 2017, sending five feet of water pouring into basement flats.

Residents at Olallo House hostel, in Grafton Place, were led to safety by rescue teams on Saturday.

“We were really lucky that it happened in the morning. If it had happened at 2pm we would have had a whole bunch of people in there,” said Paul Bott, from charity St John of God Hospitaller Services, which runs the hostel.

“It was completely flooded right the way up to the ceiling. The water was coming out of the door [into the street] at quite a fast rate. It had quite some force.”

Kind-hearted staff used their own money to find residents an emergency home for the night before being refunded by the charity.

Mr Bott said Thames Water has provided funds to allow them to use part of a hotel while the hostel is out of action. He expects it could take months before the hostel can reopen its doors, which means it cannot take referrals. “There is a definite need for services for people who are homeless,” he said.

Water gushed down Grafton Place onto Churchway on Saturday and gathered near the alleyway connecting to Chalton Street.

Andy Pennick, the London Fire Brigade incident commander, said the basement of the Euston fire station was also flooded. Electricity was restored on Tuesday, although he said it had not affected fire crews’ response to emergencies.

Water rescue crews in dry suits had helped firefighters lead people to safety from their homes on Saturday. “There were lots of different agencies responding and it worked well with what was a difficult incident,” he said.

Raluca Gibã, assistant manager at Travelodge on the corner of Grafton Place, said water had flooded the basement and cut off electricity for about 12 hours so guests were offered alternative accommodation.

Mother-of-three Tammy Paul said it was “horrendous” to see the flood outside her home in Churchway again on Saturday.

“Last time it was really bad,” said Ms Paul, 45, who suffered more serious damage in the October 2017 flood, including to carpets and sofas. “The fire brigade said [on Saturday]: ‘Look, we are going to get sandbags for you.’ It seemed to work and hold the water back. I’ve only been here two years.”

Thames Water said it has been going door to door making sure people know how to claim for damage to their property. After the 2017 flood, it paid out £769,000 for 35 claims.

A probe showed that the section where the burst happened needed cutting out and replacing.

A spokeswoman said this week that there was nothing to suggest any other immediate work was needed on the rest of the pipe, but it is on a list of pipes where monitors are to be installed with the aim of providing visibility of its condition and changes in pressure, which can be an early indicator of a burst or leak.

She apologised to everyone affected by Saturday’s burst pipe, “particularly those also affected when a different section of the same pipe burst in 2017”.

“Our loss adjusters and customer team have been in the area since Saturday, calling door-to-door, making sure everyone has everything they need and they know how to claim for any damage to their property,” the spokeswoman added.

“We understand how disruptive and upsetting this is for our customers and the team will remain in the area for as long as they need them. We completely understand residents’ concerns and want to reassure them that, if our investigation into the cause of the burst highlights any steps we can take to reduce the risk of further incidents, then we’ll look to implement them. Our pipe network spans 32,000km, so naturally we can never guarantee that any pipe of any age won’t leak or burst but we’ll do what we can to keep the risk to a minimum.”

Mosque counts the cost again

A MOSQUE which had just finished refurbishments after the 2017 flooding was affected again by the burst pipe at the weekend.

Mosque director Mohammed Haque, volunteer Ataur Tatukdar and treasurer Moham­med Abdul Malique

Traditional mosque carpets, ordered from Turkey, were laid downstairs in Somers Town Mosque, in Churchway, just weeks before Saturday’s flooding. Water got into the property and, although the damage was not as bad as last time, it may mean another new carpet is needed.

“We’ve not used this room for a year-and-a-half after the last time,” said Moham­med Abdul Malique, mosque treasurer.

“Everything you can see in the room is new. New walls. It had a lot of impact. “We will wait and see if it happens again. It is a worry.”

He added that Thames Water had agreed earlier this year to pay for a claim the mosque had submitted.

‘Stranded’ as buses stop short

BUSES have been diverted away from Eversholt Street this week after the burst, causing problems for travellers.

Ken Jones, 66, who suffers from arthritis, “wholly relies” on buses to get around and has had to walk farther since Saturday. The route 253 bus, which usually terminates at Euston, has been ending its route at Morn­ington Crescent.

Mr Jones questioned why the bus cannot travel down Eversholt Street as the works are at the far end, close to Euston Road.

“Basically, they’ve stranded a whole group of people in Somers Town,” said Mr Jones, of Polygon Road.

Tom Cunnington, head of bus business development at TfL, said: “We are sorry for any discomfort Mr Jones has experienced from having to walk farther while the 253 terminates temporarily at Mornington Crescent. Route 253 buses aren’t able to serve the section of road between Mornington Crescent and Euston until the road surface can be reinstated. There is no other viable route.”

He added: ‘We are pressing to be able to return all of the affected services to their normal routes as quickly as possible.”

Other bus routes, such as the 168 and 91, are on diversion until works are finished.

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