Family’s ‘heartbreak’ at storm’s impact

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Homes in West Suffolk were devastated by floods and one was hit by lightning during Friday’s ‘tropical storm’.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service was called to Lawshall following reports a house had lost power after filling with almost 7ins of water at 6.10pm.

Crews pumped water from the house and helped another of four Lawshall properties that had become flooded. They also pumped water from a Woolpit home and extinguished a house fire caused by a lightning strike in Bury St Edmunds.

Patricia and Michael Burton-Hopkins’ Lawshall home was badly affected. They plugged doors with towels to try to prevent water from coming in and tried in vain to bail it out after.

“It started late afternoon and it was just so fast – it came in a whoosh, and it was sewage too,” said Patricia, whose family photographs, computer, white goods and piano were among items ruined by the ‘tropical storm’.

‘Heartbroken’, she added: “If the ditches were clear and the pumping station had worked it wouldn’t have been as bad –it was compounded by everything not working.

A spokeswoman for Anglian Water said: “Unfortunately when sudden heavy downpours strike, the sheer volume of water can overwhelm the whole area – rivers and road gullies as well as sewers and pumping stations.

“We share responsibility for managing the drainage network with councils and highways authorities and work closely with these partners to consider the whole picture and understand where flooding is originating from and what can be done to tackle it in the long term.”

Patricia said: “It was horrific, absolutely ghastly. Something’s got to be done now to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

Lawshall resident John Payne said drains in the village were ‘spewing out water’ instead of taking it away and the village hall – which is expected to remain closed for at least six months – flooded when water began ‘pumping up through the floor’.

“It was the most incredible storm I have ever witnessed in my life,” he said.

Marion Leonard said she had repeatedly complained to Suffolk County Council about the ditch near her house not being maintained.

Her garden fence was ‘smashed down’ on Friday to allow water to escape from her garden, but cars driving through the flood sent it through her front door anyway.

In Stanton, Cllr Jim Thorndyke said the heavy rain washed the contents of three recently-sown fields through the village, filling drains with silt, covering the roads with mud and flooding the corner shop.