DOZENS of residents of a flood-damaged estate have been forced to abandon their homes over safety fears less than a week after torrential rain ravaged nearby homes.
Last week people living in Mill Vale, Newburn, were given just hours to leave their properties after specialists said a block of flats was on the brink of collapse.
Spencer Court was evacuated and several nearby houses flooded as rain lashed the area and also forced people living in two blocks of flats on Hareside Walk and Hareside Close out of their homes.
But on Saturday Newcastle City Council issued a warning to residents living in 51 homes on the rest of the street, strongly advising them to pack up their belongings.
It followed a forecast which predicted heavy rainfall could wreak more havoc in the area. It was feared that a dene full of water just north of the estate could overflow and cause more flooding.
Meanwhile, a second dene behind Mill Vale homes also threatened to overflow as debris blocked water from running off the site. It’s still unclear how many people had chosen to follow the advice but it is believed that many could be out of their homes for up to two weeks.
Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for quality of life, Coun Henri Murison, said: “This decision to evacuate Mill Vale homes is an operational decision taken for safety reasons which I support. In making this decision we have wanted to give people plenty of time to consider the advice and pack their belongings.
“I would call on insurance companies to give residents every assistance that they can. If they do not, then the city council will work hard to lobby on residents’ behalf.”
Emergency services and council chiefs, supported by Northumberland Estates who own a section of the culvert and builders Dunelm, who built Spencer Court, took the decision on Saturday.
The council set up a rest centre at Newburn Activity Centre for residents to go to and it is predicted that further rain this Friday could heap more misery on those affected by the floods.
A spokesperson for Northumberland Estates said: “Northumberland Estates sympathises greatly with the residents of Mill Vale as they make the difficult decision over whether to leave their homes for the next two weeks.
“Northumberland Estates remain committed to solving the problem of the blocked culvert on our land as quickly as possible and we have devoted significant resources to achieve this.
“Work at Spencer Court and Mill Vale to restore and improve the flood defences is ongoing.”
Paula Davison, 47, and her family had to flee their home in Mill Vale last Tuesday when the water swept through the house and the ground in the garden gave way.
The mother-of-two said: “We are staying in a hotel until tomorrow, but after that we don’t know what is going to happen. There has been a real lack of communication.
“No-one seems to know who is in charge or can tell us if we are going to be out for two weeks or six months. We need to be able to tell our insurers so we can get alternative accommodation organised.
“I go to visit the house every day, as it was my little oasis. Now we are living in a hotel bedroom looking at four walls.”