Going Underground: Purley underpass used as flood overflow

Has Croydon Council hired Noah as a consultant?

Flood sign 2Nathan Elvery, the chief executive (the sometime entrepreneur seems to have discreetly dropped the “interim” part of his title from official correspondence) seems to be expecting floods of Biblical proportions, since he has had council staff distributing letters warning of possible flooding to households as much as one-third of a mile – and uphill – from Purley Oaks’ water works.

The pond at the works has been full to overflowing for the past couple of days. The Purley re-cycling centre has been closed all weekend because of flooding from the water works.

The council’s website – notionally the Town Hall’s favoured means of communicating with residents – was only updated twice all day yesterday, despite the evidently fluid situation.

Today it was updated at 10am, for the first time carrying news that the pedestrian underpass at Purley Cross is being used as an “overflow” pond in an effort to avoid more than 400 homes from being flooded by the Caterham Bourne.

This information was published by the council at least 12 hours after fire crews had started pumping water into the underpass, and presumably longer still after the borough’s Gold Command committee of senior politicians, council officials and emergency services and agencies had agreed the action.

With parts of Whyteleafe suffering flooding for the past month and areas of “Kenley-on-Thames” being underwater for three days, areas upstream along the course of the bourne – Purley, then South Croydon and Croham – are expected to experience the rising water levels in coming days. Met Office weather warnings for the weekend have been moderated since yesterday’s heavy showers and storms, at a time when the area really needs a week or more of dry weather after the wettest January since records began.

Croydon interim CEO Elvery's letter to flood-threatened households in Purley, including some one-third of a mile uphill from the Brighton Road. Better safe than sorry, or are they expecting even worse conditions?

Croydon interim CEO Elvery’s letter to flood-threatened households in Purley, including some which are one-third of a mile uphill from the Brighton Road. Better safe than sorry, or are they expecting even worse conditions?

On Friday, the flooding caused power cuts in parts of Kenley, Purley and even to parts of the sunny uplands of Coulsdon.

The local Red Cross has been alerted to provide emergency shelter and food in the case of families being flooded out of their homes.

The A22 Godstone Road between Downs Court Road (A2022) and Croydon Road (B2208) at Whyteleafe remains closed because of serious flooding.

“As the situation in the area continues to deteriorate, and with more heavy rain forecast, a decision has been made to pump excess water away from the worst affected areas and into the Purley Cross gyratory pedestrian underpass,” said a council statement released to the media – though not to residents on the council’s website – last night.

“This action is being taken in a bid to protect around 400 homes and businesses and to keep the Kenley water treatment works from being flooded by surging water.”

The Croydon floods have been treated as a “Major Incident” since Friday, when the water works at Kenley flooded and the nearby primary school had to be evacuated of its pupils for a second time in three days.

Keeping the Sutton and East Surrey water treatment works clear of any contaminating flooding remains a priority, since it supplies water to 25,000 households in the area.

The Met Office has downgraded its severe weather warning (click here), with no serious rainfall forecast until Tuesday.

  • To report rising groundwater levels or flooding, residents are asked to call the Environment Agency Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60. You can also sign up to the free groundwater Flood Alert/Warning service by calling Floodline on 0845 988 1188.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Croydon Council, Environment, Kenley, Nathan Elvery, Purley, Roke Primary, Schools, South Croydon and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Going Underground: Purley underpass used as flood overflow

  1. It certainly is a “fluid situation” (para 4)!

    Seriously though, Croydon needs a better flood strategy than just “accepting the risk” and diverting water into underpasses. Many residents and businesses have suffered increasingly from flooding in recent years and the problem needs to be addressed.

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