Flood Ark

Lowestoft, Suffolk

When Levington Court in Lowestoft was hit by flooding in December 2013 the staff, led by scheme manager Hayley Cheshire and backed up by the efforts of the local community, went above and beyond the call of duty to support residents.

Residents were moved from the ground flood to the first floor and furniture was lifted to above what was hoped would be the maximum water level. Unfortunately with a metre of water in the building this was not always successful, but a lot of personal possessions were saved in this way. Wading through the water in the building in the middle of the night, it was heart-breaking for staff to see resident’s memorabilia and snapshots of their lives floating in the water. Despite this, the resilience and good humour of the residents was amazing.

The morning after, once the flood water had receded, the Fire Service attended the building and pumped out the lift shafts so the lifts could begin to be reinstated. It was then down to Orwell’s staff and a monumental effort to manually push out the surplus water from the building.

In the days that followed, the local community rallied round with support. Asda, Kentucky and the Hatfield Hotel generously provided food for Orwell staff and tenants alike following the complete power loss in the building. The Red Cross also set up a centre next to Levington Court providing support and free torches for residents.

Of the residents in the 18 flats on the ground floor, nine were rehoused in other Orwell sheltered housing schemes within the county. The other nine were relocated to Lord Kitchener home on Kirkley Cliff, Lowestoft. This enabled the care team at Levington Court to continue working with the older residents to provide continuity, familiarity and reassurance.

The repair work began immediately and Fosters Property Maintenance refurbished the 18 ground floor flats, a communal lounge, offices and courtyard gardens. The programme of works included stripping out and installing new kitchens and wet rooms, decorating, hanging over 180 veneered doors, re-laminating and carpeting throughout the ground floor. It was a major project, which took six months to fully complete.

After consultation with Orwell’s insurers, J P Chick Environmental Services undertook a detailed flood risk assessment and as part of their recommendations Flood Ark were appointed to supply and install 24 bespoke flood barriers as a first and second line of defence to protect against the threat of future flooding. The barriers protect the gaps of Levington Court’s perimeter walls and then all the entrance doors and fire escapes to the buildings.

“In situations like this you need professional contractors and consultants around you who react quickly whilst installing a quality product. J P Chick recommended Flood Ark which proved to be a fantastic decision. Flood Ark have been very easy to work with and we wouldn’t hesitate in recommending them in the future” - Steve Crissall, Orwell Housing Association.

Work to install the flood barriers began in November and was completed in January 2015. Levington Court staff, along with Orwell maintenance staff, have been trained in how to use the systems.

High spring tides and a tidal surge warning were issued by the Environment Agency for Saturday 10th January, so all of the Flood Ark barriers we installed were deployed by Orwell as part of their new flood contingency procedures.