“It’s just a bloody nuisance that could and should have been prevented,” says the owner of a £1.2 million home in Horsham that was flooded on Christmas Eve.
Marc and Carol Hodghton blame the remnants of large tree stumps left in the Mill Stream running through Horsham’s Gardens of Remembrance for causing a dam which forced water to flood their home in St Mary’s Walk.
Mrs Hodghton says she repeatedly asked council officials in the weeks preceding the Christmas storm if the blockages could be removed.
“I just find it so frustrating that I spoke to so many people and kept saying that this had the potential to be a problem, and eventually somebody that I spoke to said they wouldn’t deal with it until Spring.”
The couple are now seeking reparations from Horsham District Council and the Environment Agency to make good the extensive damage caused by the backlogged water, estimated to cost £100,000.
The incident is compounded by the fact the Hodghtons were required to lower their Scandinavian designed lodge by HDC planners in 2003 to ensure the new building did not obscure the view of St Mary’s Church.
Mr Hodghton said: “If we were a couple of inches higher we would have got away with it because we had tanked it all, but when it is coming through the doors and windows there is not much you can do.”
The couple sung the praises of the firemen who warned them half an hour before the waters encroached on their property and subsequently worked tirelessly to save their belongings.
Said Mrs Hodghton: “It’s thanks to them we’ve got a home because without them we’d have lost everything on the ground floor.”
The home owner added: “We’ve always been so proud of it and that’s what I find so upsetting.”
The couple have had to cancel a trip to Australia to visit their grandchildren and Mr Hodghton reflected that Christmas 2013 had been a ‘complete disaster’.
In a statement the Environment Agency said it had received no notification of blockages in the Mill Stream but it is now investigating the issue. A spokesperson for HDC added: “Horsham District Council is investigating the matter but is unable to comment further at this stage.”