HOUSEHOLDERS may finally be able to start drying out and clearing up their flood-hit homes almost three months after being deluged by sewage and sludge.
Developers Dunelm Homes and Northumberland Estates hope water will soon start flowing again down the damaged culvert that left one apartment block in Newburn, Newcastle, precariously perched after land collapsed beneath it.
And that could mean some of the families who were forced from their homes could be allowed back to start repairs before Christmas.
But before that happens Dunelm Homes director Brian Manning said it is likely his firm will have had to spend £1m shoring up the culvert bank beneath Your Homes Newcastle’s Hareside Walk flats and removing almost 500 tonnes of silt and rubble from a 250m stretch of the culvert’s southern section, between Mill Vale and Newburn High Street.
That’s on top of the amount insurers could have to pay for demolition of the flats and to fill in the collapsed ground surrounding the block – which could top £2m.
“A lot of people thought the apartment block on Spencer Court would come down and that would be the end of it, but really that was just the start,” said Mr Manning.
Mr Manning said it is hoped that, weather depending, work to shore up the banks and clear out the remaining 40 metres of the culvert could be finished within two to three weeks.
And Northumberland Estates, who have been pumping water from the culvert from north of the collapse, which occurred on their land, are believed to be planning to start allowing some water back through the waterway within days.
Mr Manning said while it remains unlikely any of the displaced families from the north end of Mill Vale – which is having to have new gas, electic and water lines run into it – would actually be able to spend Christmas in their homes, at least they may be able to make a start on cleaning up and drying out their properties.
“We’ve had a series of meetings with residents to update them,” he said.
“And we’re giving them as much information as we can, as it may help them from an insurance point of view.”
The catastrophic land collapse on September 25 was the fourth flood to hit the Mill Vale estate following the collapse of a section of culvert beneath Millfield Lane in May.
In June, Northumberland Estates, who own the land, entered into a licence agreement with Dunelm Homes to allow them to pump water around Spencer Court and into the open section of the culvert.
What the terms of the licence agreement mean for who should pick up the bill for all subsequent repairs remains a matter of dispute between Dunelm Homes and Northumberland Estates.
A spokesman for Northumberland Estates was unavailable for comment yesterday.
We’re giving them as much information as we can, to help them from an insurance point of view