Residents who held an ”end of flooding party” when their new £1.7million protection scheme opened were counting the cost today – after it failed.
Homeowners in Kempsey, Worcs, believed the state of the art system would defend the village from any future deluges.
They even held a ”end of flooding” party in the local hall when the flood scheme opened in August.
But after torrential rain the system failed and angry locals now claim the flooding damage is the worst they have ever seen.
Alan Crockford, a local pub landlord, said residents had been warned but “nobody knew it would get this bad”.
He said: “I was actually in my house and I heard a roar and looked outside the window and the first bit of water came down the hill.
”It was like a river running straight down the road. We were given warnings from Floodline, and they just said ‘take care’.
”We were never given any firm warning that you had to evacuate and no-one knew to expect it this bad.”
The £1.5m Kempsey project, which took almost 12 months to complete, involved building a 590ft (180m) earth embankment to protect the village from the River Severn.
Pumps, working in tandem with sluice gates, were designed to allow the Hatfield brook, which runs through the village, to join the river during floods.
But despite the system around 30 houses had to be evacuated after the pumps failed at 5am on Sunday following heavy rain, which led to flooding.
Dan Corns, who lives in the village, said: “More than £1m was spent on [the defences] and somebody’s got to take responsibility.
“It is unacceptable the pumps failed – the Environment Agency has been very good to us but we should not be building in these areas [where flooding is likely].”
Councillor David Harrison said Kempsey had been badly hit and the situation made worse when water pumps failed.
The Environment Agency, responsible for the pumps, said the river went from being below flood alert levels to a severe flood warning in the space of two hours.
They added that an engineer would now be stationed at the pumps overnight to manually activate the system, in case it fails again.
The EA website lists more than 70 flood protection schemes it has been involved in across England and Wales.
Richard Benyon, the Environment Minister, said the new systems around the country had helped protect 20,000 homes.
He said that a further £2.17billion would be spent to “see more flood schemes going ahead”.
He said the defences built in Malmesbury, Wilts., in the 1980s had “protected more homes from being flooded”.
Up to 71,000 properties were being protected by flood defences in England and Wales yesterday the agency estimated.
Temporary flood barriers have now been put up to protect the village from more damage.