‘Traumatised’ family made to stay in home flooded with ‘dirty brown sewage’ face home insurance hike
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A ‘traumatised’ family, who were unable to find alternative accomodation the night their home flooded with raw sewage, face a hike in their home insurance premium. The incident occurred when a ball became stuck in the pump assembly, sending gallons of ‘filthy brown’ water into the home.
Peter Ward, 57, was at his home in Hethe, Oxfordshire, when the accident occurred, around 9.30pm on 4 July. The house, where Peter has lived with his wife and 12-year-old son for over ten years, is only 100 yards from a sewage pumping station.
When the sewage started gushing out of the ground floor toilet in the evening, Peter described the smell as unbearable with many of the family’s possessions ruined beyond repair. “It was a very distressing experience,” he said.
“The raw sewage was gushing out at such a fast rate, that our ground floor quickly became flooded with brown and dirty water.
“Our dog, Tottie, kept running through the sewage so we had to keep picking her up and washing her in the sink.”
The sewage flooded the house thick and fast for around 10 minutes before Peter managed to get through to Anglian Water at 10.30pm. The water company offered to pay for the family to sleep in a hotel overnight due to the stench of faeces.
But Peter was unable to find an available hotel as everywhere was booked up due to the F1 Grand Prix taking place at Silverstone that same weekend.
Anglian Water sent workers to disinfect the house at 5pm the next day (July 5) and it then smelt of disinfectant for four days. Peter added: “We were forced to stay in the house overnight.
“We could smell the sewage throughout the night. It was like poison.”
Peter asked Anglian water for £5,000 compensation, to cover damages and the distress suffered by his family but the company refused. He was informed by his housing insurance that his premium would rise. “I’m going to pay the price for something which was not in my control,” he added.
“I’ve been given no guarantees it won’t happen again. Our house was the first line of defence and took the brunt of it.
“If the pressure was any worse, the sewage would have filled our neighbours’ houses.”
On July 18, Mr Ward was sent an email which denied any liability for the damage which the sewage deluge inflicted.
Mr Ward was told: “We understand your allegations are that your property has suffered waste water flooding due to the pumps at the local pumping station failing and that caused sewage to back up and enter your property.
“Our investigation confirms that the pumps at the nearby pumping station were indeed interrupted and stopped working.
“The cause of this failure, however, is due to a ball becoming stuck in the pump assembly which prevented it from functioning correctly.”
Anglian Water said: “We take all reports of flooding extremely seriously and do sympathise with the customer who has been affected.
“In this case, upon investigation it was found that the sewer flooding had been caused by a third-party blockage rather than a failure of our network and therefore are not responsible.
“As a gesture of goodwill, we offered to provide alternate accommodation the night it was reported to us and our cleaning contractor, Dryright, carried out a clean-up. We continue to urge the customer to contact their home insurance company to discuss any compensation enquiry related to the flooding.”