Residents were left ‘terrified’ the bank would breach when water began seeping from the area around the Boston Barrier, councillors have said.
The Environment Agency was told during a Lincolnshire County Council scrutiny meeting on Monday that members felt the incident on September 9 had been ‘played down’ and criticised the lack of communication to residents.
Flood alerts had not been issued as no tidal surge or abnormal tides and weather was predicted.
Councillor Alison Austin had been in the USA at the time, but said a phone call left her feeling the incident was “very much played down and dismissed as being one of those things that can happen.”
She described returning to the area to find one resident’s garden ‘a lake’ with two other cottages having water ‘completely filling their back yards’.
She told the meeting: “The words of my resident were that water seemed to be coming through the bank in three different locations and that they were terrified that the bank was going to collapse.”
Following the meeting she said the EA had to ‘reassure the people who were affected’
“People honestly felt that riverbank was in danger of collapse because they knew, as I knew, that it had been excavated and it wasn’t the normal width of bank. There was the piling, but there wasn’t the normal amount of clay, so they realised they were in a vulnerable location.”
Councillor Tom Ashton, who attended the incident with another councillor, said he got there at around 8pm. He described the response from contractors as ‘glib’ and said they had ‘not filled residents with confidence’.
He said the EA, who had not attended the incident when he left at 10pm, were only on site at around 1pm the next morning.
An Environment Agency spokesman apologised and explained the incident had followed work piling as part of the Boston Barrier project.
She said the organisation experienced more seepage than predicted but said the level of flooding and risk of damage was ‘relatively low’.
She said lessons were being learned by both the EA and their contractor, and work would be done to improve communications with residents in the future.
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