Fiskerton residents are on tenterhooks as they await crucial flood defence repairs, leaving them vulnerable to potential devastation. Following the havoc wreaked by Storm Babet, local authorities flagged around 80 homes at risk due to damage to two sections of the River Witham’s bank totalling 50m in length.
Despite evacuation advisories, many residents chose to stay, citing past experiences with flooding. Although residents are now advised to return to their homes, officials warn that the necessary repairs to the river bank could take weeks, if not months, leaving the community in a perilous state.
Lincolnshire Police Supt Phil Vickers told BBC Radio Lincolnshire: “In fairness, access [to the damaged river bank in Fiskerton] is very difficult. The fields are water-logged at the moment and getting the heavy equipment in there is not going to be straightforward.
“I think, to be realistic, it’s going to take weeks, and potentially months, for the damage to be repaired properly.”
On Friday, residents rallied together to fill sandbags for distribution outside the former Tanya’s Knitwear Factory, and positioned them in front of nearly every home in the village. Debbie Nottingham, one of the volunteers, praised the strong “community spirit” in the village. She said: “Everybody is really anxious so we’re just keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn’t go.
“It is what it is, it’s the waiting that’s the problem. The police told me it could go up to a metre high, but we don’t know whether that is from the edge of the riverbank and then coming in, it might not be a metre by the time it reaches our homes.”
Another resident, choosing to stay anonymous, shared that anxiety about the flooding had kept her awake for two nights. Despite her worries, she chose to remain in her home. “We don’t want to go, we want to stay in our home,” she said.
Robert Benstead, 75, although fairly confident that the water wouldn’t breach its banks, chose to err on the side of caution. He moved into his neighbour’s house, which is currently unoccupied and further down the road, as a precautionary measure.
He said: “The wife isn’t very mobile, she can’t walk very well. So if it did come in the night, it would be difficult getting her out of the house.”
Commenting on the state of the surrounding fields, he noted: “They said they would let us know within the next couple of days, but I’ve just gone down to the river and it looks as though the water has gone down a couple of feet so that’s one good thing.”
Meanwhile, Syril Holding, 54, maintains that the village has faced and overcome worse situations in the past. Although he insisted he wasn’t anxious, he succinctly remarked: “It is what it is.”
A statement on the Lincolnshire County Council website reads: “All residents of Fiskerton and Shortferry Caravan Park have now been able to return to their homes. Residents had previously been advised to evacuate by the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum, after damage to two sections of the riverbank totalling 50m in length following Storm Babet and rising water levels.
“However, the bank is still holding the river water and is being continuously monitored. The safety of residents in both Fiskerton and at Shortferry Caravan Park has been our priority throughout and teams from the Environment Agency (EA) have been working hard to improve the situation locally.
“While the riverbank will take some weeks to fully repair, a 24-hour surveillance system operated by EA means we can take quick action to ensure those potentially affected can move out quickly.”