VIDEO: Calls for inquiry into handling of Christmas Day flooding evacuation at Iford Bridge (From Bournemouth Echo)
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VIDEO: Calls for inquiry into handling of Christmas Day flooding evacuation at Iford Bridge
THE managers of Iford Bridge Home Park where 90 people were evacuated due to devastating flooding are calling for an inquiry into the way the disaster was handled.
Site managers Wendy and Ken Ayres have said elderly residents were placed in “serious danger” because of the lack of warning before the floodwater swept into properties causing £10million damage.
Elderly and bed-ridden residents were rescued in dinghies at 4am on Christmas Day when the River Stour broke its banks despite being told just hours earlier that they did not need to be evacuated.
Wendy said: “The lives of the residents were put in serious danger. We want an inquiry into the way the severe flooding at the park was handled by the environment agency.
“We are always given two hours notice to evacuate. But instead I was first notified by the police who called me at 3.35am and said we should evacuate.
“The first I heard from the Environment Agency was at 4am when they said there was a flood warning. They then called back four minutes later and changed the warning to severe, which means we should evacuate immediately.”
The major incident has been described as a "one-in-100-years event" and the site managers said it was the worst flood in the area since 1979.
A conference was held on Christmas Eve with the Environment Agency and emergency services and it was decided that there was no need to evacuate.
Ken said: “They knew the speed it was coming at. But they didn't know the time. So why take the risk?”
Resident Chris Hart said: “It was traumatic, there definitely was not enough warning from the environment agency. It was scary because the whole area was swarming with water.”
A spokesperson from the Environment Agency said: “On Christmas Eve a flood warning was put in place which means flooding is expected and immediate action is required. The residents would have been free to respond by leaving the site.
“The Agency worked closely with partner organisations to ensure residents were safely evacuated. We don’t see a need for an inquiry but the managers are within their rights to call for one.
“With the benefit of hindsight it would have been better to evacuate on Christmas Eve, rather than leaving it till early in the morning on Christmas Day.”
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