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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 March, 2004, 11:47 GMT
Families return home after flood
Burst water main
A number of residents had to be moved from their homes
Forty families are returning to their homes which were flooded when a water main burst.

Properties in Penshurst Avenue and Maple Crescent, Sidcup, south-east London, were evacuated on Friday.

Water was 3ft deep in places after the pipe burst in Blackfen Road at 0400 GMT and spread to four other roads.

Engineers finally sealed the leak at 0300 GMT on Saturday while water supplies were being brought from other areas.

Thames Water said production at the nearby Coca Cola factory, which uses purified water in its new bottled water brand, did not appear to be affected.

Spokeswoman Liz Almond said some families had begun returning home, but others may have to wait several days.

The police marine response unit was there and some people had to be taken out by boat
Richard Morley, resident
She added: "We are dealing with Victorian mains, half of which are 100 years old and a third of which are 150 years old.

"We had a cold snap recently which may have caused the pipes to expand and contract and then burst, or it could have been a tree root growing down. We do not believe it is vandalism.

"Our number one priority is the customers, who have been extremely patient. We are now helping with the clean-up operation."

Thames Water took at least 700 calls from customers complaining about the loss of water on Friday.

Six families were put in up hotels overnight while the rest stayed with friends or relatives.

Among them were Richard Morley, his wife and two boys aged six and three, who were woken by a neighbour's call at 0545 GMT on Friday.

Sandbags limit damage

They managed to limit damage to their house by putting down sandbags, but their car was submerged up to the steering wheel.

He told BBC News Online he was "taken aback" to find water up to his doorstep but said all the agencies involved had been very supportive.

He said: "We had the Salvation Army bringing sandwiches and cups of tea. It was what you'd imagine it was like in war time.

"The police marine response unit was there and some people had to be taken out by boat.

"We put sandbags on the door so most of the water was limited to the hallway and front of the lounge.

"But unfortunately, in some of the other houses, the water came in through the front door and washed all the way through to the back."

Loss adjusters have also been at the scene, trying to asses the extent of the damage.

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