Wednesbury flood: Clean-up begins after roads, cars and homes hit by 10 MILLION litres of water
Distraught home and car owners are counting the cost after 10 million litres of water flooded roads in Wednesbury.
Cars were submerged, gardens were flooded and water seeped into nearby buildings after a water main was damaged by workers installing a new electricity cable on Thursday.
Emergency services have been pumping more than 4,000 litres of water away from the scene every minute after the water reached as high as 9ft (3m) in places. But as the flood clears, the scale of the damage is being revealed.
Huge cracks are visible in the concrete on Leabrook Road North, while rocks, soil and other debris are scattered around the residential area.
Many cars have been written off and residents are beginning to plan how best to repair the damage and start cleaning their homes.
Four Olympic swimming pools
David Essex, head of wholesale service delivery at South Staffordshire Water, explained how the incident unfolded.
“It all happened at around 10am where a third-party contractor damaged a pipe," Mr Essex said.
"It’s a large diameter 20-inch trunk which feeds a large area.
WATCH dramatic footage of the flood:
“A lot of water escaped. We estimate about 10 million litres of water was lost - the equivalent to four Olympic size swimming pools."
Residents were evacuated and left watching on the pavement as engineers and emergency crews rushed to make the area safe before clearing the water.
It was not until after 5pm that Leabrook Road North began to look more like a road and less like a river again.
"The water has all gone now and emergency services have left the site," Mr Essex added.
“We are trying to get the road open, most of excavation is done.
“We are dealing with the homeowners and vehicle owners and how can help them now - getting them back up and running.
“Repairs and parts of the pipe will be installed tonight. We don’t think we will need to close the whole road.
“We are now just clearing away the debris with various recovery vehicles on site.
“We still don’t know how much damage cost wise to the pipe, but part of the pipe was blown out.
“The main focus is making sure anyone affected is OK now.”
Dozens of firefighters, paramedics and police officers were at the scene throughout the day.
However by the time crews began pumping water away from the roads, it was too late for many of the vehicles parked by residents and commuters travelling from the nearby Wednesbury Parkway tram stop.
Twenty-year-old Joseph Barber was in Birmingham when he heard about the flooding and realised his VW Golf was at risk.
He said: “You could see my car in all the background of the footage under water.
“I had not finished training at work and I had to tell them it was emergency and leave.
“The water was up alongside the grill to start with, so my car is a write-off. I am really not happy.
“I have spent a lot of money on my car, I’m devastated.
“I have only owned the car since November and I’ve put a lot of money and work into it. I come back to this and it’s a complete write-off.
“I’ve worked hard for this. A car is just a car to some people, but it meant more to me."
Sharon Garner, 46, is a carer for and lives with her 64-year-old mum Pearl Harrison on Leabrook Road North. Their house was among the 12 properties still without power on Thursday afternoon.
Sharon said: "The drive is completely wrecked. The water came right up to the front door and now all the slabs are out of place.
"I rushed to move everything out of the corridor in case it got into the house.
"My mother has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and angina.
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"The electric has gone off but she needs her nebuliser four times a day. We are on the emergency oxygen.
"She cannot go anywhere because she needs an electric scooter and I cannot leave because I am her carer.
"I normally pick up my granddaughter from school but could not do that today. My daughter was phoning constantly she was so worried."
Adelaide Millership, aged 45, returned home from work to find her ground floor flooded.
“I was at work when I got calls from my next-door neighbour saying there was an emergency at my house and there was water everywhere," she explained.
“I had to tell her to go to my house because my daughter was asleep upstairs as she works nights.
“Luckily I took my car to work today, as I don’t normally as I only work around the corner!
“I phoned my daughter and she said the police had just knocked on the door and to evacuate her.
“My house is flooded. Hopefully it’s not been damaged too much as we have tiled floors.
"I’m more worried about the structural damage with the water going through the vents, so it will be under the floorboards."
Specialist water units were among the 60 firefighters at the scene who checked at least 17 underwater cars to ensure they were empty.
Nitesh Patel owns one of the many submerged vehicles.
He said: “I was in Birmingham at work - I obviously saw all the social media posts and was notified about it by friends and family.
"I decided to rush back here immediately to see what had happened and was greeted with this.
“It is frustrating to say the least. My car is fully a write off.
“I need to find a solution now for the best way forward. I park here daily. Nothing like this has ever happened before.
“It’s the entire project itself, it has been ongoing for months now - it’s poorly managed.”
Dramatic video shot before emergency services arrived showed water gushing out of the pipe next to a stranded mini digger.
The water eventually reached the dual carriageway Black Country New Road and flooded the car park at Stearn Electric, where staff had to move to the first floor.
Western Power said it was 'unfortunate' the pipe had damaged by contractors working to install a new electricity cable on the road.
Malcolm Fisher, who lives just down from where the pipe burst, said: “I was at work and I just got a phone call from a neighbour to say that a digger had gone through a water pipe in the road.
“My neighbour was telling me the water was all up my drive.
“It took me 25 minutes to get back from work and by that time it was up to my steps. We all got evacuated.
“Luckily my cars are OK, as they were parked on the drive. They managed to stop the water otherwise it would have come up to the house.
“As we are up a level we were quite lucky but others were not. It’s devastating."
As residents and commuters rushed home to assess the damage, pupils at Albert Pritchard Infant, St Mary's Catholic Primary, Ocker Hill Infant, Ocker Hill Academy and Wood Green Junior schools were all sent home due to the lack of water supply.
A man broke his wrist after falling down a hole and one woman had to be rescued from her home but thankfully nobody was seriously injured.
However as emergency services continue to pump water away from the road and the clean-up begins, the full cost of the incident is yet to be counted.