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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Cumbrian village swamped by raw sewage as drains overflow

Villagers were swamped by raw sewage as drains overflowed during a torrential downpour after the heatwave.

Arlecdon sewage flood photo
Cheryl Corlett shortly after the flood

Dozens of householders in Arlecdon, near Frizington, were forced to shut their windows to keep out the “unbearable” smell with many staying indoors until the mess was cleared.

It happened just after 8am on Tuesday as west Cumbria was hit with thunderstorms. The drain on Arlecdon Road was unable to cope with the heavy rain, spilling raw sewage, nappies and toilet roll onto the roads.

And residents had to wait around six hours until the clean-up operation began.

Cheryl Corlett, whose house sits behind the drain, said it was disgusting. The 24-year-old and her family – including her two children aged four months and 22 months – said they would not leave the house.

“There was all sorts all over the road,” she said. “I’ve got two young kids and there was no way I would take them out. Every now and then you got a waft and it was so bad you gagged.”

She said that many youngsters from the village were riding through the mess on bikes and scooters, not realising it was human waste.

Luckily the sewage and rain water did not get any higher than the pavement, so failed to swamp people’s homes – but their cars were not so fortunate.

“My brother’s pick-up truck was parked outside on the road,” said Ms Corlett, “and it was covered in toilet roll – it was disgusting.”

Muriel Gilpin, who owns the nearby Post Office, said that people in the village had been calling in and complaining about the mess.

“It’s dreadful,” she said. “It was such a foul smell and the roads are covered in toilet roll and nappies.”

Her son Graeme Gilpin, 38, lives on Arlecdon Road with his wife Carol and had to use a plant pot to cover one of the manholes.

“At about eight this morning it all started and the sewage blew the manhole cover right out of the ground. We went out and put a plant pot over the cover,” said Graeme.

“It was the smell around eight o’clock that alerted me to it and it still smells out there now. The police came about nine o’clock and went to get some cones but never came back. Highways came after that but didn’t do anything, and United Utilities came about 2.30pm.”

At the time of speaking with Graeme, the mess had been cleared away but the street had not been washed.

“It is terrible, everyone was complaining about it (the response time) and kids were riding through it on their bikes,” he added.

Polly Rourke, from United Utilities, apologised to customers who were waiting for engineers to arrive.

  • Torrential rain and thunderstorms also hit north Cumbria, with Low Hesket, between Carlisle and Penrith, and Croglin bearing the brunt.

Water in a garage in Low Row, near Brampton, had to be pumped out and in Patterdale a fire crew were called to isolate some electrics after water levels rose.

A resident in Croglin took to social networking site Twitter to publish a photograph of the village, in which locals stood in shock as the road and pavement were under water.

The worst of the damage was caused to the village pub in Low Hesket.

Neighbours and customers helped to bail out water at the Rose and Crown, as a sudden deluge wreaked havoc.

The bar area was left up to five inches deep in flood water when thunder and lightning hit the area on Tuesday night.

  • A tree was struck by lightning on Iredale Place in Loweswater, south of Cockermouth, at 9.30am yesterday. Fire crews used a hose reel jet to put out the fire.

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