East Garston has been in the news this week but not in a way anyone would wish. Humphrey’s Lane residents have been subjected to not one but two bursts in the mains sewer pipe in a period of 36 hours earlier this week.
Several homes on Humphrey’s Lane have been evacuated due to flooding by effluent that poured from the pipe that burst about 9pm Saturday night from the Hillside garden above them.
Worst hit was 2 Humphrey’s Lane, home to 94 yr old Rose Adler. Raw sewage flowed knee height throughout her whole home. The fire engines and Thames Water staff arrived pretty quickly and no-one got much sleep that night as it was all hands on deck to help the rescue effort. Roger and Shelley Greene next door at 1 Humphrey’s Lane managed to protect their house by sweeping the sewage flowing through their garden away from their back door for four hours in the dark.
Roger and Shelley have lost everything they had stored in their garage but they have been able to stay in their home. June Crook, however, has had to move out of her home for a few days and Rose’s bungalow will be uninhabitable for several weeks. Luckily she has been able to move in with her daughter and grand daughter down the road.
“Everyone in the local community has been so kind offering lots of support,” says Rose’s grand daughter Deana Carpenter. “Thames Water are clearing out the contaminated contents of Nan’s house but we are waiting to hear from Nan’s insurers and Thames Water assessors about what will be covered in terms of replacing everything.
“You can’t replace the sentimental things of course but Nan is being stoical about it. What else can you do? We just hope this never happens to anyone else. It is horrible and it’s very stressful trying to sort out the logistics.
“Sovereign say they will make Nan’s bungalow habitable again as soon as possible and this involves re-tiling and sealing all the floors and replastering the bottom one metre of all the walls so it’s a big job. We reckon Nan will be living with us for at least 6 weeks. It’s a bit of a squeeze in our house but we’re just glad we’re here on the doorstep to help her.”
“As soon as we know what help we need we will let everyone know. The press exposure (see BBC report) and knowing everyone is thinking about her really helps even though there’s not much anyone can do at the moment.”
“We had to clear everything out of our garden, including a lovely rattan garden suite, as it was contaminated,” explains Shelley Greene. “We moved it onto the verge at 3.30am on Saturday night and by 5.30am it had gone. Maybe someone thought we didn’t want it anymore and thought they’d help themselves…well it probably won’t smell very nice!
“Other than that I have to say how kind and supportive everyone has been.”
Neighbour Sarah Digweed has set up a Justgiving campaign so that people can donate funds to help the people most affected by the sewage flooding. If you would like to contribute please click here.
The mains pipe that burst takes sewage from the pumping station in Lambourn to the treatment plant in Great Shefford (and does not have any local houses connected to it).
It is thought that the first pipe burst in East Garston occurred within hours of the sewage being switched back on in Lambourn after work was completed on the pipe in Great Shefford.
The second burst in East Garston occurred 36 hours later on Monday afternoon a few metres further down (while the BBC crew were on site filming the results of the first one).
Thames Water are working to replace the entire length of pipe running between the gardens on Humphrey’s Lane and Hillside. This may take up to two weeks and involves pulling a new sewer pipe through the existing one. This technique (confusingly known as ‘pipe bursting’ because the new pipe bursts through the old pipe) does not involve excavating gardens above the pipe but will be done from either end i.e. the Millennium Field and the paddock off Rogers Lane.
This means that excavation work is now taking place again in the Millennium Field. Since the ground is not contaminated on this occasion, the Millennium Field will not be closed. The excavation area is fenced off, however, and you are advised to ensure that children and pets do not stray into the work area.
It also means that while the pipe is switched off for the duration of the works, tankers will be transporting sewage from Lambourn to Great Shefford.
If you have any questions about the work Thames Water is doing please contact Denise Kinsella, Thames Water Customer Liaison Manager on 07747 644251.
East Garston Parish Council will be meeting with Thames Water shortly to discuss a longer term solution.