Flood defence work has been suspended after the site itself became flooded.

Water pumps and sandbags have been required to keep flood water at bay at Hillmans Cottages in Ongar Road, Abridge, which have suffered flooding several times, most severely in 2000.

A 13-year campaign by residents for flood defences in the area finally bore fruit when work began on a £1 million scheme in November by the Environment Agency.

However, recent heavy rainfall saw the River Roding reach its highest ever level of 2.59m last Saturday and work on the scheme had to stop when the site was covered in flood water.

Waters got so high that the Environment Agency installed a pump and a sandbag wall in order to prevent the 12 Hillmans Cottages properties from going underwater.

Work will recommence at the site when safe, but at present the gap which exits in the defence will remain filled with sandbags.

Flood warden for Lambourne Parish Council, Charles Portou, said: “The Environment Agency did a great job in getting here so quickly last Saturday and the measures have been very effective in keeping the properties free from flooding.

Cllr Portou also chairs the Hillmans Cottages Management Company said in a statement: “The residents are most appreciative of these exceptional efforts.

“They have suffered enough and cannot wait for the weather to improve to enable the contractors to finish the works and thus bring an end to their nightmare and 13 year campaign to have flood defences.”

The flood defence scheme consists of a four foot high clay mound between the river Roding and the cottages which will be covered in grass when completed in March.