Following Storm Ciara, exasperated residents demand that flood defense work on the River Kent continue without delay.
Tim Farron, an MP from Westmorland and Lonsdale, added his voice to those of the flood campaign groups, pushing for urgent action, saying, “After a weekend when the flood waters of the Kent River were a few centimeters from people’s homes, it is clear that we had a lucky escape.
“Four long years have passed since Storm Desmond destroyed homes and businesses throughout our area and the Environment Agency has finally developed a fully funded scheme.
“Now is not the time for dithering and delay, but for action.”
Liz Dales, of the Kendal Castle Flood Action Group, said: “The events of this weekend show how important the proposed flood measures are. We were tenterhook for about 48 hours, waiting for what would happen.”
Four floods are known to Burneside. “We were about 1 cm from a sizable number of others,” said Gayle Howarth, leader of the village flood resilience group and president of the Burneside Residents Association. “It was really very scary for them.”
He added: “People are very frustrated that we are still waiting for formal work to deal with the floods.”
Burneside resident Gary Walker was among those who helped distribute water pumps and sandbags. “People are tired of it,” he said. “My neighbors have been flooded about six times since 2008. They can’t get insurance.”
Ian Kell, secretary of the Benson Green and Sandes Avenue flood action group in Kendal, said the river’s water plummeted worryingly close to homes on Sunday and that residents closed the doors. “The predominant feeling over the weekend was fear. People were scared, people didn’t sleep. ”
He asks the Save the Heart of Kendal protest group to abandon his appeals for an independent review of the £ 76 million flood defense plans in Kent.
“It took four years to get where we are, which is nowhere exactly in terms of effective flood defenses.
“This is partly due to the bureaucratic and political processes necessary for the Environment Agency to do its job, but also partly due to the concerted efforts of organized demonstrators who try to prevent the entire Kent basin from being protected by the “flooding.
Maggie Mason, president of the Kendal Northeast Flood Action Group, also called for flood defense work to proceed without delay.
Simon Thomas, a spokesman for Save the Heart of Kendal, told the Gazette: “The main thing that came out over the weekend is that the Kent River hasn’t blown up its shores.
“The first phase of the scheme will make things worse along the river – the flow will be much faster and much more dangerous.”
The Environment Agency said Storm Ciara provided “a timely reminder of how important it is to better protect our local area.”
Flood risk manager Stewart Mounsey said: “Given a few extra hours of extra rain and slightly higher river levels, many people could have had a much worse experience over the past weekend.
“The people of Burneside, currently awaiting the flood plan and who unfortunately flooded this weekend, would probably have been better protected once these new defenses were put in place.”
Mounsey said the proposed £ 76 million Kendal regime will reduce the flood risk to 1,437 homes and 1,151 businesses in Kendal, Burneside, Staveley and Ings with a one percent chance in a given year.
He said the EA was examining the Kent River Basin as a whole and using a combination of methods to “best protect people and property from flooding.” He said natural flood management “will not work on its own and should be used in combination with other more engineered solutions.”
The first phase – which will begin this summer – will see at least six trees planted for each removed, for a total of over 3,666 trees; 50 hectares of peat bog restoration; and five hectares of habitat and recreational space have improved.
Detailed projects for phases two and three are being developed, with plans to be presented in the summer of 2021.
Mounsey said that public feedback has always been welcome. Further consultation events and a new public information center are planned. Anyone with questions and comments can call 03708-506506 or send an email to KendalFRMS@environment-agency.gov.uk