Thursday, October 6, 2022
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Thurrock Council praised after South Ockendon flats damaged by high winds

DOZENS of Thurrock Council staff and contractors raced into action when the weather before Easter damaged the roof of eight South Ockendon flats.

High winds in the early hours of Tuesday, 31 March, led to a chimney collapse above the flats over shops in Derwent Parade and prevented repair work starting until the day afterwards.

Yet on Good Friday (3 April) the flats were habitable again.

On the Tuesday morning emergency planning officers attended the scene and helped set up a rest centre at the nearby Culver Centre, providing a safe haven for the eight families and their pets along with food and drink.

Housing officers were also on the scene early that morning – despite the traffic gridlock caused by the closing of the Queen Elizabeth II bridge – and they helped the families either find temporary accommodation with friends or family or, in two cases, provided hotel accommodation.

Six shops were also put out of commission because of the fallen masonary, but shopkeepers were able to access their buildings again by the middle of Thursday.

One family was on holiday at the time of the incident, but the remainder were allowed back on Good Friday, assisted by council housing staff who took details of any internal damage for each of the homes which was then relayed to colleagues in technical services.

One family was initially hesitant to return but was soon convinced the property was safe.

The family on holiday returned to their home on last Wednesday morning without incident.

In all, three chimney stacks were removed, one of which fell in to a balcony. The entire roof to the rear of the building was removed but has been completely re-boarded and a new water proof covering provided. This was completed by council contractor Mears in three days.

On Good Friday, three council housing staff and a council building surveyor were at Derwent Parade for a final inspection with Mears staff checking electrical wiring before the residents were able to return.

Although the flats are now safe, the work is not complete and the council is looking at possible permanent solutions which will start shortly.

Barbara Brownlee, Thurrock Council’s Director of Housing, said: “I would like to thank and congratulate our staff and the staff from Mears who all went above and beyond what is expected tio get the best possible outcome for our tenants.

“The emergency services also deserve everyone’s thanks and I would also like to thank the residents themselves, people who were rudely and suddenly evicted from their homes by an act of god, for their understanding in this totally unexpected situation.”

She said: “Finally, I would like to assure everyone that permanent repairs will be completed as soon as possible and that we will be carrying out a detailed examination of all the roofs at Derwent Parade.”

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