Tower Hamlets family forced to rip up carpets after horrible flood havocs flat for weeks

Mim Bapari poses for photos in his house in Vellasky house in East London, Britain 21 May 2024. Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon
-Credit: (Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon)

A Tower Hamlets family has been forced to rip up their carpets after flooding wreaked havoc in their home for two weeks. Rabia Begum, who lives in Vollasky House, Whitechapel, described the situation as a "total nightmare" and said her family is suffering from post-traumatic stress after water began pouring into the flat on April 30.

Tower Hamlets Community Housing (THCH), which owns the lease on the East London block, has confirmed the leak originated from a pipe connecting to a water tank. Ms Begum told MyLondon the incident had a large impact on her household because her mother is 85 years old, while she also lives with her sister who has been housebound for 20 years due to schizophrenia and her 13-year-old son who suffers from autism and dyspraxia.

The family first noticed the flooding when they saw water pouring down the bathroom wall. This was followed by water rising through the floors of the kitchen and landing. After a week the housing association sent a plumber to inspect the problem, but Rabia claims the flooding then became worse.

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"We couldn’t sleep at night," she told MyLondon. "We’d go to bed for a few hours but then come back to massive puddles in the kitchen. It was like someone was throwing buckets of water on the floor.

Rabia's 85-year-old mother stayed awake for an entire night to mop up the floodwater
Rabia's 85-year-old mother stayed awake for an entire night to mop up the floodwater -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

"I’d stay up until 1am and my mum would wake up at 5am to mop up the puddles. There was one night when she didn't even go to sleep at all.

"In the landing floodwater was coming up to my ankle. The smell of stagnant water became so bad I had to rip up the whole carpet and throw it away. It was a nightmare, I’ve never experienced anything like it."

Tower Hamlets Community Housing offered temporary alternative housing for the family, but Rabia said the move would be too stressful for her sister and son due to their disabilities. She fears major works are required in their home will be needed to make it safe once more, which will only be possible if they move away for a period.

Other properties in three other properties in Vollasky House were also impacted by the flooding. Mim Bapari was forced to send his wife and 18-month-old son to live with his in-laws in Birmingham over fears for the toddler's safety.

Mim Bapari, 25, has not been offered alternative accommodation
Mim Bapari, 25, has not been offered alternative accommodation -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Mim, who lives in the flat above Rabia, claims his flat is no longer habitable but has not been offered alternative accommodation. He also believes the issues were partly caused by the housing association neglecting the pipework in his and other properties which showed signs of rust. THCH did not respond to this claim.

The 25-year-old first noticed a leak above his fridge on April 30. After calling his landlord who was on holiday at the time, Tower Hamlets Council eventually sent an emergency plumber at 2am the following morning who said he was unable to stop the leak without cutting off the supply of water to the entire building.

As more water began leaking from other parts of the ceiling, Mim was forced to place buckets across the floor but this did little to deal with the issue.

He told MyLondon: "The whole ceiling came off due to the flooding and dampness. The property manager came and said he’d dispatch a big team to deal with the incident, but the next day only one worker turned up. They are not taking this seriously enough.

"THCH have made a lot of promises, but not fulfilled any of them. It was very stressful, my parents are away on holiday so I’m in charge of the house, while our landlord was on holiday in Germany."

Mim, who lives in Vollasky House with his parents and one sister, added that it's the financial impact that has affected him the most. While he didn't have power in the kitchen for two weeks, he was forced to spend £120 on takeaway food.

The family are now able to use the kitchen again, but can only cook in the daytime as the ceiling light has not been fixed yet.

"It’s been costing us £7 a day to use the dehumidifiers and there’s only so much they can do," he said. "Thankfully it’s a warmer time of year but if nothing is done then it’s going to get really mouldy in the kitchen.

"I understand things like this can happen, but THCH needs to show its prioritising taking action on this. It’s been three weeks since this happened but it’s still affecting us."

Vollasky House in Whitechapel
Vollasky House in Whitechapel -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Tower Hamlets Community Housing said it will carry out repairs in the affected homes and has advised leaseholders on their insurance options.

A spokesperson said: "The repairs at Vollasky House were completed last week, and water has been fully restored to all homes. We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused and appreciate our residents’ patience.

"Dehumidifiers have been provided to the affected properties, and inspections are being arranged to ensure they are thoroughly dried. After these inspections, we will carry out the necessary repair and decorative works to fix any damage from the leak.

"Once we were made aware of the leak, a full investigation was carried out. The leak originated from a pipe connected to the water tank supplying Flat 6 and some water to other homes. We offered alternative accommodation for the residents in Flat 6, which they declined.

"Unfortunately, the repair to the pipe was delayed because access was refused by one resident. However, once we gained access, we completed the necessary repair within 24-hours.

"To ensure long-term solutions, we are doing further maintenance at Vollasky House, including remedial work to the roof, and renewing the pipework. We will also carry out proactive condition surveys to surrounding blocks to prevent similar leaks in the future. We understand the frustration and inconvenience caused and are committed to ensuring residents' homes are safe and comfortable."

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