In the early hours of 18th September 2023 an intense series of rain storms affected Ashby de la Zouch and the surrounding areas. The huge volume of water that fell quickly saturated open ground areas and began a rapid run off, through rain water gullies and drainage systems, into the Gilwiskaw Brook towards Packington.
Unfortunately for Packington, our brook cannot contain such flows, and we experience flooding. Even under normal circumstances, the Gilwiskaw Brook may break its bank on Mill Street between the watermill bridge and Hall Lane bridge. This overflow can block the road for a few hours before retreating back into the channel.
In September however the rainfall was such that the volume of water was much greater than normal and as a result more than 15 homes were flooded as well as over 40 properties that were cut off due to their access being under flood waters. Packington Primary School itself was unable to open, being inaccessible to vehicles.
This was extremely distressing for everyone affected. It has caused damage to property, loss of personal effects, and a huge amount of disruption as home and property owners began to clear up afterwards.
Packington Post has tried in the photo gallery below to illustrate flood waters and the affected areas – Mill Street and Brook Close are particularly badly hit, Heather Lane at its Junction with Mill Street also had houses 1 to 3 inundated in September.
FLOAT (Packington Flood Action Team) have been in regular contact with Leicestershire County Council , NWLDC and the environment agency to examine what the root causes of the more extreme flooding were. The examination of where flooding occurred during this event indicated that it was a combination of water coming out of the Gilwiskaw Brook, failure of culverts and ditches around the village, and the continual issue of emergency discharge from the sewage works.
There are now further investigations planned by LCC into what can be done to clear watercourses – the Environment agency have been tasked with improving the flood alert system to try and alter their current system to allow flood warnings to actually be sent before flooding happens – however this still hasn’t been put in place.
Friday 20th October 2023 – storm Babet swept into the UK and once again Packington flooded. This time the water rose during daylight hours and so some preparation against floodwaters could be made by vulnerable households. The lowest lying homes in the village did still suffer significant flooding, roads through the village were impassable, and the school was once again cut off by the floodwaters.
The community really rallied around to check on neighbours and assist in getting sandbags to protect homes that were at threat of the rising water – and this was much appreciated.
Unfortunately we did get a small number of ‘thrill seekers’ coming into the village in off-road vehicles with the intention of driving in the flood water – the standing advice from Fire & Resue services is that you should never enter flood waters either on foot or in any vehicle – from a safety aspect – manholes and drain covers can become dislodged by floods causing an unseen hazard, and from a practical point of view, vehicles moving through puddles or flood waters cause spray and push water into bow waves that then cause more issues for homes effected.
So what can we do as a community?
Please – Report all blocked drains and gullies to Leicestershire County Council Highways department.
– Report any roads that become impassable due to flooding (no matter for how short a period)
– Report any flooding to your property – include any integral or attached garages or outbuildings
It is only by continuing to report issues will we get support from our local authorities in looking for ways to improve the current situation. Development and construction upstream of Packington are making our problems worse and for this there is no quick fix.
Meanwhile watch out for any communications from FLOAT, we are planning to hold more open meetings to update people on any progress made, this includes having a structured village flood plan to alert and hopefully assist residents and vulnerable properties
From an article in Issue 123 of Packington Post, November 2023
by village Flood Warden Sarah Marvin