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Flood victims: Where are our damages payouts?

Thames Water under fire four months after homes and businesses were wrecked in mains burst

07 April, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Antiques trader Pauline Coakley-Webb and Councillor Una O’Halloran at last week’s meeting

RESIDENTS and traders hit by floods in Angel in early December have challenged Thames Water over unpaid compensation claims.

Many of the flood victims are still waiting to be reimbursed for damage and loss of earnings they suffered in the deluge caused by a burst in a major pipe in Upper Street on December 5.

Businesses and homes were wrecked as millions of gallons of water gushed down Camden Passage, Charlton Place and Colebrooke Row before flooding gardens and basements in Devonia Road.

Ten households in Charlton Place and Devonia Road have had to move out while kitchens and basements are being stripped, dried out and completely refurbished.

At a meeting at the Business Design Centre in Angel last Wednesday, Thames Water chiefs were challenged about the length of time it is taking to have claims processed.

Devonia Road resident Jo Willett said: “The problem is that our insurers have been pretty good, but where it gets difficult is the uninsured losses, the excess on insurance, water bills [residents have been told they will not have to pay for 12 months], all those other things.

“Cunningham Lindsey [Thames’ loss adjusters] pass on the details to Thames but it just goes into a black hole. They say they accept total liability but we’ve not got anywhere.”

Flood-damaged Devonia Road gardens waiting to be cleared

Ms Willett said she does not expect to be able to return to her home until the autumn as building work has not even started.

Thames Water is due to begin clearing gardens in Devonia Road and rebuilding partition walls and terraces next week.

At last Wednesday’s meeting, the firm agreed to set up a working group made up of representatives of businesses and residents to meet every fortnight to chase up claims.

Nigel Dyer, chief executive of Thames Water Infrastructure Alliance, the joint venture responsible for repair and maintenance of the company’s networks, said: “We will sit down to see what information is still required and we will put pressure on our insurance teams that our commitments are honoured.

“We want to quickly resolve these issues. The last thing we need is for this to go on and on.”

Ms Willett said the fact that she will not be able to enjoy her garden this summer is “very sad”, adding: “When Thames Water are not following up on promises you can understand why people are getting angry. We hope they’ll have a more proactive approach now we’ve got channels of communication.”

Neighbour Robert Clark-Majerus said: “I think they [Thames Water] have been very good.

“When they came to our house the day after it happened, they could not have been more reassuring about accepting full responsibility.”

Thames’ bills are expected to run into the tens of millions of pounds. The floods caused damage to 35 businesses in and around Camden Passage, Islington’s antiques quarter. Millions of pounds worth of irreplaceable antiques, some from the 16th century, were destroyed.

The pipe in Upper Street is due to be replaced but no dates have been arranged for the work, which will last several months.

The road closures involved will mean another headache for traders.

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