Thousands on Isle of Sheppey still without water for second day during heatwave as schools forced to shut

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Sheppey residents push their water supplies home  (Alamy Live News)
Sheppey residents push their water supplies home (Alamy Live News)

Thousands of people on the Isle of Sheppey were left without running water for a second day in the midst of a sweltering heatwave.

Schools and public buildings across the Kentish island were forced to close on Wednesday after efforts to restart supplies were hampered when a second water pipe burst overnight.

Southern Water said it fixed the pipe that first cut off supplies on Monday but restoring pressure to the system overwhelmed another pipe and closed the network off again.

A third emergency station was set up at Sheerness Tesco on the north point of the island to provide residents with bottled water as their home taps were useless for a second day.

Videos on social media showed long queues of locals waiting in the store car park as officials handed out bottles by the trolley-load.

Parts of the A249, the bigger of two roads leading to the island, were closed into the evening to allow emergency services to install waterpumps from mainland Britain to Sheppey.

Emergency water distribution point in Sheerness Tesco car park (Alamy Live News)
Emergency water distribution point in Sheerness Tesco car park (Alamy Live News)

Kent County Council ordered all public buildings, including schools, libraries and childrens’ centres closed until supply was restored.

The council said in a statement: “We are working at pace with partners from the Kent Resilience Forum to support Southern Water in returning services to homes and businesses as soon as possible.

“We understand the concern this will cause members of the public and we are working with Southern Water and partners to ensure the most vulnerable are properly protected.”

Southern Water said it was delivering water to vulnerable customers but some complained that they had not received any.

Bottled water ready to be handed out to residents (Southern Water)
Bottled water ready to be handed out to residents (Southern Water)

Laura Forsey, a resident, told the BBC: “Southern Water are not supplying all priority homes with water. Water points have no water. We are in dire need of water and yet they are not trying hard enough to deliver it.”

Another resident, Lisa Peeke, described the situation as an “absolute disgrace”.

“I am on priority register and have not had any water delivered. I only have three jugs left for a family of four,” she added.

Early in the afternoon, Southern Water said it had repaired the second pipe and the network was set to be running properly by late evening.

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