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Disabled man's battle for compensation following 'Niagara Falls' flood in Harlesden council flat

PUBLISHED: 18:00 23 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:54 24 October 2018

Sean McGowan, whose flat was flooded. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Sean McGowan, whose flat was flooded. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Jonathan Goldberg

A disabled Harlesden man has accused the council of "incompetence" after he was forced to stay in his home after a "Niagara Falls" flooding.

Sean McGowan's kitchen after a pipe burst in the flat above Picture: Sean McGowanSean McGowan's kitchen after a pipe burst in the flat above Picture: Sean McGowan

Sean McGowan’s flat in Harlesden Gardens was destroyed eight months ago when a burst pipe in the empty property upstairs sent water gushing into his council-owned property.

The 52-year old has been battling for compensation ever since the flood, which began at 5.50pm on March 3.

He said: “I called 999 and the council, but the council didn’t come for another five hours and then the man noted it down as a leak.

“It wasn’t a leak – it was Niagara Falls, a gushing flood.”

Sean McGowan's kitchenSean McGowan's kitchen

His wardrobe, cooker, fridge and freezer were all waterlogged, and laminate flooring and glaze doors were destroyed. Despite appeals to council officers, he claims he received no help in the initial weeks – something the council disputes, saying it acted quickly.

“The council insurance people said it wasn’t their responsibility and did I have insurance,” said Sean. “They didn’t even come and visit my flat after the flood.

“It took more than eight weeks for the council to start work on my flat as they had to start on the void property above first. Their workers wore masks but I had nothing to protect me from all the dust.”

Sean, who has serious illnesses, added: “I’ve had to live in my front room as all the other rooms were damaged.

“I had to salvage what I could and received no assistance from the council. I had to beg them for a humidifier which arrived 12 days after the flood.

“There was no duty of care, no assistance and the fact that six months on I am still sorting out the compensation for the damage shows just how incompetent the council are.”

A spokesperson for Brent Council said: “We regret the inconvenience caused to Mr McGowan over this unfortunate incident. We were in touch with Mr McGowan as soon as this happened, and acted quickly to make his home habitable again.

“We referred Mr McGowan to the council’s insurance company, and they are in ongoing dialogue with him regarding his claim.

“We will ask the insurance company to confirm to Mr McGowan when they will provide him with a final response.”

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