‘Heartbreaking’: Family home of 34 years hit by floods during post-Covid reunion

Flooding at a house in Walthamstow where Nicola Thorogood and her family were celebrating (Nicola Thorogood/PA)
12:50pm, Mon 26 Jul 2021
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A woman whose childhood home was flooded during the family’s first get-together in 18 months has described the experience as “heartbreaking” for her parents.

Nicola Thorogood, 33, was at her parents’ house in Walthamstow east London, along with her two sisters, their partners and all their children when torrential rain hit the area on Sunday.

The family made a frantic attempt to keep the water out of the home they moved into in 1987, but in the end they gave up and put their efforts into trying to save as many belongings as possible.

(Nicola Thorogood)

“It’s heartbreaking for my parents,” Ms Thorogood told the PA news agency.

“It’s just knowing what they’ve put into it – they’re in their mid-60s now, but they’re still working – and they’ve worked so hard all their life to have that house and it’s the thing they’re most proud of and want to pass on to us eventually.

“It’s that that breaks my heart.”

The house, in a road badly affected by the storms, is about a 10-minute walk from Whipps Cross Hospital, which declared a major incident on Sunday and was forced to ask patients to go elsewhere.

Ms Thorogood’s family were all together on Sunday for the first time since January 2020 on the first weekend after so-called Freedom Day.

Her older sister left with her children shortly after 3pm as the weather started to worsen, and soon after the rest of the family were using buckets to try to sweep water away from the front step, and build makeshift flood defences using bin bags and soil.

When it became clear they could not stop the water, they instead tried to save as many belongings as they could.

(Nicola Thorogood)

Ms Thorogood said: “We took what we could upstairs, obviously anything like sentimental photos and things like that.

“Then we retreated upstairs to my parents’ room and just watched the rain fall and the flood come in.”

One picture taken on Sunday shows Ms Thorogood’s father wading through the kitchen with water up to his calves, and another shows the sofa lifted on to four dining room chairs to keep it safe from the water.

“My mum was close to tears,” Ms Thorogood said.

“She kept saying, ‘nobody’s hurt’ and ‘there’s worse things could happen’ but you could see the pain on her face.

“My mum’s very house proud – she’s always cleaning and she’s always decorating and she keeps it to a nice standard.”

Ms Thorogood said the road had flooded before, though not as severely, but she does not know who is to blame.

(Nicola Thorogood)

By Monday morning the water had receded and her parents, who stayed there overnight, were beginning to clean up.

“They stayed because mum just didn’t want to leave,” Ms Thorogood, who lives in Chingford, said.

“I spoke to her this morning and she said the water’s gone, but it’s like a warzone, and they don’t know where to start.

“I’m hoping she’ll come and stay here for a few days… they can’t stay there, at the moment they have no power, they don’t know if it’s safe to put it back on.

“So it’s just a bit of a waiting game.”

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