Videos show Chingford flash flooding

Flash flooding hit shocked residents of Highams Park for “the first time in sixty years” this week.

On Thursday afternoon (August 17), heavy rain saw the river Ching overflow its banks, turning suburban roads into “torrents” and sending fast-flowing water down local roads like Waterhall Lane.

Read more: Mayor ‘concerned’ about flash flood risk in London

The Government issued a flood warning for the river shortly before 6pm, which ended later that evening when river levels dropped once more.

Trevor Banks

The following day, the worst hit residents had their doors wide open and were drying their carpets in the sun, while others were clearing soil residue from their gardens.

Trevor Banks, 57, a black cab driver who was born on Waterhall Lane, said: “During the 1970s, the Ching would sometimes overflow but the furthest it came up was the garden, 10ft from the front door.

“Then they dredged it and that cured it – I’ve lived in this area my whole life and never seen it do that.

“It was just flowing down the street, I think the road acted like a drain to take it away. At 6pm, it was like a river and by 9.30pm it was all gone.”

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Debris blocking the River ChingDebris blocking the River Ching

Josh Lyons, whose home is beside the Ching at lower end of Waterhall Lane, captured a video of the water flowing at speed across his drive.

He added: “It’s not what you want to see one year after buying a house. We thought the stream was part of the charm of the place… but last night I thought ‘f*** the stream’.”

A man in his late 70s, who asked not to be named, said he’d lived next to the river for 60 years and “never seen anything like that before”.

He added: “It just kept running, the whole road was covered and the water reached the top of the car tyres.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: The water marked people's homesThe water marked people’s homes

“A lot of my stuff flowed away down the river… the garden is just saturated.”

A man in his late 30s, who also asked not to be named, said he worked in flood alleviation for a neighbouring local authority and believed the river levels were record-breaking.

He explained: “The river had come up to the top of the bridge, it was 2.5m deep, normally it’s 0.3m, the maximum it’s ever been is 1.3m.”

“It’s got to be the drought, we’ve had bad rains but nothing like that.”

Two neighbours who described themselves as “pissed off Highams Park residents” questioned whether the street drains had been cleared by the council and said they hadn’t seen a street sweeper in “years”.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: One of the streets affectedOne of the streets affected

Thames Water and Waltham Forest Council both declined to comment directly on Waterhall Lane’s flooding, claiming river flooding is the responsibility of the Environment Agency.

The Environment Agency has not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Waltham Forest Council’s deputy leader Cllr Ahsan Khan said he saw the flood damage first hand yesterday and residents and businesses were “rightfully worried”.

He added: “Following last year’s extreme weather, we have proactively taken steps to install urban drainage systems and rain gardens to alleviate the effects of extreme weather and we will continue to work to identify places where these measures may help protect residents.

“Council officers have worked closely with Thames Water colleagues following the severe weather.

“We have visited over 40 areas affected by flooding as part of the effort to assist hundreds of residents during an emergency situation.”

The council’s spokesperson said gullies are now cleaned at least twice a year and high priority areas receive “extra attention”.

Council officers are understood to have checked gullies in high risk areas from Monday 15th August, when rains were forecast.

For more information about flooding in Waltham Forest, visit:

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