ALMOST a third of households evacuated during major flooding in Grands Vaux last month have not returned to their properties – with some residents describing parts of the area as a ‘ghost town’.
Residents are still in the process of clearing the wreckage from their flooded homes, several weeks after torrential rainfall overwhelmed drains across the Island.
Nearly 60 Grands Vaux households were evacuated and a major incident was declared as emergency services responded to the flooding, which rose to waist height in parts of the estates.
Andium Homes spokesperson Carl Mavity said that, as of this week, 17 homes remained significantly damaged – ‘enough so that those people have been unable to return’.
He added that this figure mostly consisted of households in Nicholson Close, one of the worst-affected areas.
‘We are providing temporary accommodation,’ he said, ‘or if there are those who need more permanent accommodation we will look at that where appropriate. As we dry the properties out we will continue to work with the families.’
He said that it could be weeks before the true extent of the damage was clear.
One resident, Kerry Goguelin, said she had been temporarily relocated from her home in Pillar Gardens to a hotel in St Helier.
She said that the aftermath of the flooding was still a daily struggle for many residents – and that some parts of the estates resembled a ‘ghost town’.
‘There’s nobody coming out – it’s just eerie,’ she said. ‘All you see when you look around are skips and rubbish. It’s a reminder that this is not over.
‘The clearing work is still under way, people are cleaning the floors, there’s grit, there’s mud and it’s not safe for children to play outside.
‘I’ve lived here for 20 years. It’s not just bricks and mortar – it’s our home.’
Nataly Fay, a resident of Nicholson Close, said she was moving from a hotel to more permanent accommodation, as the damage to her property was substantial.
‘They have found me an empty flat to move into, so I’m just trying to sort things out.
‘The whole of Nicholson Close is deserted – there are skips outside and people are just dumping everything.’
In the wake of the flooding, worried Grands Vaux residents sent an open letter to Jersey Water, Andium Homes and Assistant Environment Minister Hilary Jeune asking for clarification on the immediate and long-term actions that will be taken to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future.
Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet has said the Infrastructure, Housing and Environment Department and Jersey Water were working closely together on potential solutions – which could include improving the Island’s drainage systems.
A petition launched by Ms Goguelin calling for the government to produce and publish a ‘flood response action plan’ had reached nearly 300 signatures by yesterday afternoon.
Steve Ozouf, who also lives in the Pillar Gardens estate, has urged Islanders to sign it.
‘It would help because they [the government] would have to say what is being done and take some ownership.
‘It just feels like we have been forgotten,’ he added, estimating that the work on his house could continue for another month.
‘The hallway and the garage are still being sorted out – I dumped a load of units yesterday.
‘Our tap water now smells very strongly of chlorine.’
At the time of the incident, Deputy Binet said that Grands Vaux would be at the ‘front and centre’ of efforts to improve the Island’s flooding resilience, as ‘we don’t want residents to live under constant fear of flooding’.
However, Mr Ozouf said such a fear was ‘the reality’ for those still living in the area.
‘It’s a small reservoir but we get the most water because of where we are situated,’ he continued.
‘What’s to stop it from happening again?’
He noted that a lot of residents were either unable or had refused to move back into their properties.
‘It’s like there’s no atmosphere [on the estate],’ he said. ‘Everyone is just a bit sombre.’