Worst of the flooding is over villagers are told

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FLOOD-HIT residents of Westergate have been told the worst should be over.

As reported, the village was affected by severe flooding two weeks ago.

Fire crews spent more than eight hours tackling the emergency.

It was caused by the deluges which have occurred in the past two months.

Portsmouth Water engineering director Rod Porteous said it was unavoidable.

“We had 253 per cent of the 30 year average amount of rain in January and 215 per cent so far this month,” he said on Monday.

“That’s a lot of rain which has caused groundwater levels to rise. The flooding is not to do with our Westergate Pumping Station. It’s a natural phenomena.

“We have been running our pumping station 24 hours a day all week but it makes very little difference to the amount of water away from a 50-100mm radius.

“The groundwater level has fallen in the past ten days and so I think it is unlikely we will see it go back up in the near future.

“We would need to see another lot of rain for that to happen which doesn’t appear to be the case looking at the forecast, though we’re no weather experts.”

One of the villagers affected by the flooding, Stuart Morris, of Mouse Hall on Westergate Street, said the flood occurred without warning after the heavy rain in the late morning of February 14, though Nyton Road had been running with water since before Christmas.

“Within minutes, our living room was under a foot of water and our garden was a lake.

“Though water has come down our driveway before, this level of water has never been seen and we have not had water inside, and our property dates back to 1560.”

He said firefighters arrived in time to save much of his family’s furniture and belongings. They joined with neighbours to move as much as possible upstairs.

This operation, as well as setting up sandbag barricades, lasted until 9.30pm when all the water was pumped out of his house.

“Our house was habitable again the next day, though I am told it will be months before it is fully dry,” said Mr Morris.

“A number of other properties nearby have not been so lucky and remain uninhabitable and will do so for some time.”

Mr Porteous said rain which fell on the South Downs was absored by the chalk underneath the clay surface.

The chalk soaked up the rain like a giant sponge but there would come a point where no more rain could be absorbed.

This would see the excess rain run off the soaked water towards the coast.