Felixstowe: Chaos at schools, businesses and homes after resort loses water supply

FELIXSTOWE: Hundreds of children enjoyed an unexpected day off school after the resort’s water supply was suddenly cut off.

Some 12,000 homes and businesses were affected after a pumping station power cut saw pipes run dry.

Families across Felixstowe and the twin Trimley villages suddenly discovered taps were not working and toilets were failing to fill up after flushing.

The drama happened around 7.45am yesterday, just as people were preparing to set off for work and school, and businesses were just starting their day.

Four schools – Grange Primary, Causton Junior, Maidstone Infants and Orwell High – decided to close after staff were told supplies might not be reconnected until 2pm.

While it gave youngsters a day off, it left many working parents with a nightmare trying to arrange care.

Orwell High executive headteacher Rob Cawley said the schools, all in the same stretch of Maidstone Road and Grange Road, had liaised about the situation and decided closure was the best option because of the uncertainty over when supplies would be restored.

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“For health and hygiene reasons, we had to make an early decision,” said Mr Cawley.

“Anglian Water told us it could take up to 2pm to restore supplies and that would be too long to be without toilets and handwashing facilities – some of the schools have very young children and it would have been a difficult problem.

“Some schools also have kitchens, which need water.

“We felt we had to make a decision quickly and decided by 8.15am to close. I know it has caused disruption for parents, but we felt it was the right decision.”

Exams had continued and also school trips.

Christabel Reynish, head of Grange Primary, said: “I hate closing because it is so disruptive.

“We had no sanitation and having had swine flu last year, which was horrendous, and knowing that it doesn’t take much for sickness to spread, we felt we had to close.”

Deben High School was not affected because it has two mains supplies and only one was affected, leaving some of its toilets closed for a while.

Colneis Junior initially closed, but quickly re-opened after supplies were reconnected just a short while after they were lost.

Neither Trimley St Martin or Trimley St Mary primary schools were affected.

Felixstowe Community Hospital and all the town’s doctors’ surgeries were unaffected by the supply problems.

While most supplies were back on in less than an hour, there were still intermittent problems throughout the day and low water pressure in some areas as the pipe network returned to full capacity.

Ciaran Nelson, head of media at Anglian Water, said: “We had an electrical failure at a pumping station earlier this morning which left a lot of people without water.

“The failure was resolved and our engineers then began re-pressurising the main and getting the water back into the pipes.

“An incident like this just shows everyone how central water is to everything we do.”

n? How did the water problems affect you? Call The Evening Star news desk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk