FLOODING was back in focus a year after the Bognor Regis area was devastated by heavy rainfall.
The one-in-200-year event, which saw hundreds of homes across the Bognor Regis area invaded by floodwater, was the topic of discussion at a meeting of the Arun West U3A.
A series of speakers gave their viewpoint on the events of June 11 and the aftermath.
Matthew Westmore, from the Middleton-on-Sea association, said securing funding for improvement works was vital.
“The events of last June were exceptional. In my opinion it is very unlikely they will happen again but that by no way means they won’t.
“On that day it became clear that the sewage and drainage systems could not cope. The man-made ones couldn’t cope with the amount of water and the natural systems also could not cope,” said Mr Westmore.
Mr Westmore said improvements to systems on privates estates in Middleton, which were badly affected, would cost some £2m.
Kevin Macknay, West Sussex County Council’s drains strategy team leader, said two independent rain gauges in Bognor had recorded rainfall of 274mm on the day.
He said: “Since last June’s events we have been working with local flood groups and parish councils to identify weaknesses in the systems.”
A plea from John Smith, the Environment Agency’s asset performance team leader, for residents and landowners to keep their ditches clear was also made.
Mr Smith said work between the agencies who deal with flooding incidents had improved, as had response times.
Hilary Flynn, constituency manager for Bognor Regis, spoke of the horrific scenes which greeted her and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb when they visited flood victims.
“It was a huge task for our emergency services and we were so impressed with them and what they were doing to deal with a situation they had never been in within this area before,” she said.
Mrs Flynn said Mr Gibb was still working to highlight the ongoing plight of flood victims.
Arun district councillor Jacky Pendleton suggested opening up an existing rife from the north of Elmer to Littlehampton’s harbour could help ease pressure during heavy rain as currently the area relies on two outlets.