The owners of a showground which stages Britain’s biggest one-day agricultural show say they can’t help two families who claim to be the “forgotten” victims of the recent flooding in the East Riding.
The two households in Mongomery Square, Kelleythorpe, near Driffield, were flooded by a swollen stream on December 28.
More than a week later the families, who have six children between them, are still dealing with around four inches of water in the homes, having been forced to vacate them.
They believe the only way to alleviate the flow of water, fed by underground springs from aquifers in the Wolds, would be to dig a one-metre deep trench across the old railway line embankment that crosses Driffield Showground, home of the popular Driffield Show, about half a day’s work.
But show chiefs say that could cause more flooding, which would then invalidate their insurance.
Simon Record, who has lived in Montgomery Square for 30 years, said the ditch near their house was usually dry, but water started running a few weeks before Christmas, gradually increasing until it flowed up their garden and eventually into their house.
After the water came in on December 28, he and his wife and three children spent three days “paddling around” downstairs.
Mr Record said firefighters had told them it would be futile pumping the water out because there was nowhere for it to go. He said: “We’d like the water to go so we can start moving stuff out and refurbishment can begin. My wife is pretty stressed and tearful that her beautiful house has been destroyed.
“It’s not going to go down until less water comes from the Wolds or they open up a ditch across the railway line on Driffield Showground.
“Until 50 years ago, the stream used to pass under a railway bridge, and flow over the show ground to join the Driffield Beck.
“In 1964 the Driffield Agricultural Society bricked up the archway of the bridge and diverted the stream into a 3ft diameter underground culvert, which at current flow rates is at least two or three times under-capacity.
“The flood water has nowhere to go, so backs up the 500 metres to Montgomery Square.”
He added: “It’s basically down to very heavy rainfall; it is not helped by the fact the culvert couldn’t take this flow of water from what is normally a dry ditch. We are small fish – we are two houses which flooded. Burton Fleming had 40 houses flooded and obviously are getting a lot of attention. We are just forgotten.”
Driffield Agricultural Society chief executive David Tite sympathised but said over a third of their site was already underwater: “We’ve had unprecedented rainfall – usually we have 25 inches, in 2012 it was 42. In just under three weeks in December we had over seven.
“We are on a chalk bedrock and the water flows very freely through it. It is a problem right down the beck to the River Hull – everywhere is flooding because there is nowhere for the water to escape to.
“We feel for the people who are flooded out but unfortunately we are not in a position to do anything because it could invalidate our insurance. The water level would go up and it would be into our offices as well as our function rooms.”
Ward councillor Felicity Temple said cutting the trench could not undo the damage which had already been done.
If East Riding Council did the work it could open them up to damages claims. She said: “What you do for one person will have an impact on others. Had we known earlier that Mr Record’s house was in danger of flooding we could have put some barriers in place.”