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Wednesday, 10 October, 2001, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
Flood defences 'still inadequate'
A shop in Uckfield, East Sussex
Businesses in Uckfield were also flooded last year
A victim of last year's floods has accused the Environment Agency (EA) of failing to take steps to prevent the same thing happening again this year.

Barry Sheriton's home in Uckfield, East Sussex, was flooded last October causing 100,000 of damage.

He says the EA has done nothing to tackle the situation in his area, and has been forced to spend 4,000 of his own money to protect his home.

They have had a year to sort out the problem and have done nothing

Barry Sheriton
Flood victim
The EA says millions have been spent on flood defences, but there is no quick solution to the problem.

Mr Sheriton told BBC News Online that three feet of water poured into his home, ruining his carpets, kitchen and boiler.

He fears the same will happen again and feels let down by the EA.

'No action'

"They have had a year to sort out the problem and have done nothing," he said.

"They have drawn up plans and proposals but there has been no physical action. I know there is no magic wand they can wave, but they have had 12 months to do something.

"As the situation stands nothing has changed and I am facing the same situation as last year. I don't even want to think about going through that again.

"The only time I have heard from the EA in the last year is when I have contacted them."

Mr Sheriton is spending 4,000 on treating his walls to protect against water damage and having flood doors fitted in an attempt to keep the water out.

"It is a case of not being able to afford to do the work and not being able to afford not to," he said.

He said he had to find out about the flood precautions himself as the EA offered him no advice.

No quick fix

"I know nothing about this and the EA wasn't able to offer me any advice or guidance. I don't know if I am spending my 4,000 wisely or not. It is a lot of money to risk but I have no choice."

The EA's director of water management, Geoff Mance, told the BBC that work had been done to prevent a repeat of last year's flooding, but added that there was no instant solution.

He said the EA is currently operating up to 300 flood prevention schemes and is spending about 160m a year on flood defences.

"We are trying to get new schemes in place," he said.

Rescuers in Uckfield, East Sussex
Rescuers were drafted in to help in Uckfield
"Some have been delayed due to foot-and-mouth. With others it is taking time to get planning permission.

"We are doing a lot of roadshows, talking to a lot of people. I think they understand our position a lot more now.

"But there is no instant solution. We need adequate funding over a long period of time to deal with this."

He said the majority of existing flood defences had worked last year.

"Over 250,000 homes were successfully protected against flooding and of the 10,000 that were not, only a quarter were in areas where there were flood defences," he said.

He added that people could help themselves by storing valuables upstairs, together with insurance and bank details.

See also:

30 Oct 00 | Wales
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04 Jul 01 | Scotland
Severe weather hits south and west
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