This morning, Kempston suffered a burst water main, which stopped the supply of water to the majority of homes, schools, and businesses in our town. It was very frustrating, and has caused real disruption, particularly with schools closing either partially or fully. I am glad to hear that year 6 pupils were still asked to go in, especially given the importance of their stage of education with regards to Key Stage 2 SATs.
I got on the phone to Anglian Water early this morning to ask when we should expect the problem to be sorted, and to add my name to calls for urgent action; I was told that we should expect the mains to be fixed by 2pm, and it appears to be the case that a gentle trickle has started again throughout Kempston at around 11am. Water pressure should be back to normal later this evening (at around 9pm at the latest) and, if not, please do call Anglian Water on 03457 145 145 – we are expecting everything to be normalised later.
Things we can learn from this going forward are that schools should be encouraged to use their text service ASAP to give as ready an alert as possible and that the Borough Council website should be updated more quickly – all parents were eventually informed, but it appears that some parents felt the reliance on social media as opposed to earlier direct communication was less useful. While we should encourage quicker and more joined-up responses to these types of emergencies in some cases, we should also appreciate the early efforts of staff at local schools, most of which were able to get the message out quickly and effectively.
We should also take joy in the fact that, on social media outlets, people in Kempston whose water supply had not been affected were quick to offer help and access to precious H2O for those in need. Out of such a frustrating situation, it was great to see an almost ‘blitz spirit’ emerge, especially so soon after the 70th anniversary of VE Day! It really does show you that – despite the gloomy media naysayers – we are still predominantly a great nation of people, and a great community in Kempston, even all these years after our finest hour.
There are lessons to be learned, and frustrations and disruption is still raw – but we should also be proud to have the type of people in our community who generously offered access to their water supply; whose first instinct is to help others.