Floods Minister 'happy with action taken' in Wainfleet after floods

Floods Minister Thérèse Coffey says she is happy £120m of government flood defence funds "have been spent well" in the constituency serving Wainfleet's disaster zone.

Ms Coffey stepped off a plane at Heathrow today (Monday), returning from a G20 meeting in Tokyo, and headed straight to Wainfleet, where around 600 households were forced to evacuate when the River Steeping burst its banks following two months of rain in two days.

Floods Minister Therese Coffey  visiting Wainfleet.

Floods Minister Therese Coffey visiting Wainfleet.

The Environment Agency has described what happened as "unprecedented", blaming the breach in the bank on Wednesday to the sheer volume of water in the river - but residents have their own theories, from badger sets causing weaknesses in the bank to claims the river has not been properly maintained by the EA.

"In the three years I have been floods minister I have never experienced anything like this," Ms Coffey admitted. "Residents must have been very distressed when they saw the Chinook helicopter arrive, but pleased it was bringing materials to stem the breach, and I am hoping to meet some of those people today,"

Ms Coffey was speaking to the Standard following a visit to see the plugged breach and to the pumping station at Thorpe Culvert where the equivalent of three Olympic swimming pools of water an hour are being being pumped away from the River Steeping.

"A lot of kit has happened after the Chinook arrived and I have been very happy to see that," said Ms Coffey.

"This constituency has had £120 million of flood defence funds allocated from 2010 until 20121 and I am happy it has been spent well. This is a significant investment recognising how important this area is.

"I am conscious the regional Cobra emergency committee have been working hard with the internal drainage boards and other agencies.

"After the breach in 2007 this has been unprecedented but I'm conscious the community will want to work with landowners and these agencies to see what can be done."

While in Wainfleet on what was day six since the river burst its banks, Ms Coffey visited the Fire Station, where firefighters had just had a delivery of fish and chips as they continue to help with the operation to remove flood water from the town. Support has come from 11 areas across the country during the floods, we were told.

The Minister also visited the Coronation Hall, where agencies have been present since the disaster happened to offer advice and support to flood victims, as well as accepting donations of food, clothing and bedding.