WHEN pensioner Bernie Webster’s Burscough home was flooded for a third time in the Boxing Day floods of 2015, prompting a serious asthma attack, he decided it was time to do something about the problem.
Convinced that the issue was not high on the authorities’ list of priorities he set about protecting his possessions - and his health - by taking drastic action.
As well as digging up the length of his garden in Crabtree Lane to install drainage pipes, he set up three automatic electronic pumps to move flood waters away from his property into a neighbouring field - with the farmer’s agreement - and installed a larger, manually-controlled diesel engine-powered six-inch water pump.
And this week his efforts paid off by rescuing him and his neighbours from more flooding misery during the recent torrential downpours.
However neighbours says it is shameful that they have to rely on the 65-year-old’s do-it-yourself efforts to avert flood damage
Since installing the pumps, Bernie says he and his neighbours have been saved from having their homes flooded twice, the most recent being during the early hours of last Wednesday (July 31) when water flooded into Crabtree Lane from neighbouring Orrell Lane.
But although his DIY anti-flooding equipment offers some peace of mind, Bernie says having to pump out the water himself is still a traumatic experience.
He said: “It was hugely stressful wandering around in the pitch black in the middle of the night when it’s still raining and you can’t see through your glasses because they are wet and steamed up!”
And he said he would rather not have the responsibility of having to protect the property, which he has lived in for 34 years, from flood damage.
“My life has been dominated for the last three-and-a-half years by drainage and flooding. It has overtaken my life - I have not been able to enjoy my home because of it.”
Meanwhile neighbour Peter Curl said that Bernie’s
efforts had saved the day but it was ridiculous that they were having to rely on a pensioner to sort the problem while the authorities appeared to be doing nothing.
“There have been lots of meetings and lots of talking has taken place but I can’t see any evidence of any action taking place,” he said.
“My neighbour Mr Webster, who is an old age pensioner and who has a chronic respiratory condition, took the initiative and invested in a huge, diesel-driven water pump, dug up around 300 feet of his lawn and installed two drainage pipes.
“Fortunately for all of us here, his system worked well and saved at least four houses from being flooded. I think it is absolutely shameful that whilst the authorities sit around talking endlessly, that an old age pensioner with asthma is the only one who saved us.
“When are the authorities going to focus on preserving established homes and communities rather than finding ways to make more money with more and more development?”
Flooding issues at Crabtree Lane are believed to be the responsibility of a number of authorities, including West Lancs Council, Lancashire County Council, United Utilities and Network Rail. All have been contacted for comment but at the time of going to press had not responded.
(Picture - Bernie Webster (centre) with neighbours Peter Curl and Pat Simpson next to Bernie's pump.)