Thousands without water for fifth day

Southern Water tankers arriving in Hastings
A fleet of 24 tankers have been used to bring water to the town [Southern Water]

About 6,500 properties in East Sussex are still without water or with a limited supply as a fifth day of problems comes to an end, Southern Water has confirmed.

The firm said 32,500 customers in Hastings and St-Leonards-on-Sea were initially left without water after a pipe burst on Thursday.

At 20:00 BST, Southern Water said supplies had been restored to about 26,000 properties.

It said it expected "a significant number" of the remaining affected customers to be back in supply later on Monday evening.

Newgate reservoir, whose temporary closure had led to interruptions, has now re-opened and pressure is building back to normal, it said.

However, up to 2,000 properties in parts of St Helen’s and St Helen’s Wood are unlikely to see supplies return until Tuesday, when the Fairlight Reservoir has been restocked, it said, adding that its fleet of 24 tankers would be redeployed.

East Sussex County Council said it hoped all schools and colleges would be able to open on Tuesday.

Southern Water said supplies had been assured to enable this to happen and the arrangement was currently on track.

One school, St Paul's Academy, announced on social media that pupils did not have to wear uniform, as parents would have been unable to do any laundry since Thursday.

The supplier said 228,000 litres of bottled water were delivered to vulnerable customers on its Priority Services Register on Monday.

Bottled water stations have closed for the night, but three stations will re-open on Tuesday at Asda, Tesco and Sea Road.

The outage coincided with the annual Jack in the Green Festival in Hastings and the May Day Bike Run, both of which see thousands of visitors.

The events went ahead despite the water issues, although some revellers told reporters they had been filling up buckets with seawater in order to flush their toilets.

Over the weekend, East Sussex County Councillor Godfrey Daniel said: "The impact on the town will be drastic, a lot of people will lose a lot of money.

"These businesses are struggling as it is with the cost-of-living crisis."

An older man with a white heard is painted in emerald green and wears a multi-shade green costume drinks a cup of tea in a church pew
Keith Leech, chair of trustees for the traditional Jack in the Green event, said Hastings would "do it regardless of what was going on" [BBC/ Julia Gregory]

Keith Leech, chair of trustees for the Jack in the Green event, said: "On a Bank Holiday weekend that's absolutely not what the town needs.

"All the pubs, restaurants and hotels were thinking of having to close but fortunately on this side of town they've managed to maintain a supply.

"Hastings being Hastings, we're going to do it regardless of what's going on."

Southern Water apologised "for the disruption this outage has caused, especially over the bank holiday weekend".

A crowd of people all dressed in costumes in shades of green to mark the Jack in the Green festival
Festival goers gathered in Hastings Old Town despite the poor weather and continuing water problems [BBC/ Julia Gregory]

Dan Peacock runs Hastings Court Care home, which has 79 residents.

"It's not the first time this happened, so our staff have rallied round and gone the extra mile to make sure our residents don't get affected by it," he said.

"We've always got a massive stock of water, so when it first happens we can go to that supply, but then we have to make the calls and get as much water into Hastings Court as possible."

Geny and Sapphyre Callaghan at the Jack in the Green Festival
Geny (l) and Sapphyre (r) Callaghan had to close their food shop in Hastings because of the loss of water [BBC/Julia Gregory]

Sapphyre Callaghan had to close her food shop in Hastings for two days, although she was able to run her stall at Jack in the Green.

She said: "We were probably out for three full days, so it was very difficult preparing for Jack in the Green.

"Luckily, because we do festivals, we have the facilities to boil water and wash our hands, but by Saturday we decided to close [the shop] because we couldn't cope with the lack of water."

Tara Flood at the Jack in the Green Festival
Tara Flood was still without water on Monday morning [BBC/Julia Gregory]

Tara Flood, who lives in Hastings, was attending the festival, despite still having no water on Monday.

She said: "Low pressure last night, but no water this morning. It's an absolute disgrace. We've been up to the water station on Rye Road. The staff working there are just fantastic.

"We've not been able to flush the toilet for 24 hours. This is not how it should be."

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