Residents flee as village swamped for the third time

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The Independent Online

In the village of Yalding the people are wondering what they did that was so terribly wrong. Yesterday, for the third time in three weeks, the Kent village was under water after torrential rain swelled the Rivers Medway, Teise and Beult which converge there.

In the village of Yalding the people are wondering what they did that was so terribly wrong. Yesterday, for the third time in three weeks, the Kent village was under water after torrential rain swelled the Rivers Medway, Teise and Beult which converge there.

By yesterday, lower parts of the village were under 4ft of water and villagers feared the situation would deteriorate overnight. Margaret Reavill, who runs the Post Office in Yalding High Street said: "We simply cannot believe it is happening again. It's a case of here we go again, third time unlucky.

"A lot of people have already moved out and won't be coming back for a while. The Lees Road is all under water, about waist-high and vehicles cannot get down there." The village was first struck by floods on 13 October then again last week in the wettest months in the area in more than 100 years.

Many residents have moved out for the winter while their water-damaged homes are being repaired.

More than 230 people have been evacuated from the village since the first flood struck and 64 are still in temporary shelter. Roger Adley, a spokesman for Maidstone Council, said: "They are in bed and breakfast and other accommodation. It is unlikely we will have to open a rest centre this time. It is a great shame but the same homes are being flooded again."

With more rain predictedmany residents are angry that more was not done to protect them. "We just think something should be done about it," said Mrs Reavill.

"The village has not flooded for years and then it goes and happens three times. It's not completely flooded but it soon will be. It is pouring with rain and the river is already up to the wall so we are expecting the worst. People have been sand-bagging their houses and moving all their stuff upstairs, but apart from that, there's not a lot you can do."

Tony Di Marco, 53, a teacher who lives in Yalding High Street, said last night that he expected his home to be flooded by this morning.

Mr Di Marco, his wife Karen and their two stepchildren have been unable to use their ground floor since it flooded 2ft deep three weeks ago.

"The whole experience is harrowing," he said. "We've only been able to use downstairs for cooking. I could not say how much damage has been caused because the insurance company is dealing with that. As for tonight, I expect to be wearing my wellies and wading through water tomorrow to get out of the house."

The Environment Agency has been unable to offer any comfort to the 2,000 villagers. Last night it issued a severe flood warning for the River Medway, in Kent, between Tonbridge and Yalding. The Rivers Beult and Teise are already on a severe flood warning.

An Agency spokesman said: "We think there is a chance the river at Yalding will not overtop but it has become more probable with a further warning on the Medway. We'll be monitoring it throughout the night."

Around 60 of the agency's staff are on emergency work around Kent. The spokesman added: "Rainfall has caused rivers to respond rapidly and the situation is expected to get worse."

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