An elderly woman who has been living in fear next to a construction site for 18 months returned home to a flooded house yesterday as torrential rains hit the island.

Yvonne Zarb Cousin, 81, said the house in Paceville she has been living in for 56 years sustained structural damage over the months after the demolition of a neighbouring building. She said she first realised the foundations of the house she rented had shifted because of excavation work next door when sunlight filtered through fault cracks in the sitting room.

The contractor carrying out the works eventually propped up an arch leading to her dining room with metal stilts, urging her not to sleep in the bedrooms above, she said.

As the months rolled by, rainwater eventually seeped in through the cracks, as evidenced by large mould stains on the walls. Picture frames had to be removed, and Ms Zarb Cousin also had some furniture pushed away from the wall to avoid further humidity damage. She covered some of the cabinets with cloth.

The heavy rainfall that flooded so many streets across the island yesterday also reached her entrance hall through the upstairs rooms. The water was dried with the help of friends in the locality, however she fears the electricity system embedded in the wall is now exposed to the elements.

She said she tried to reach an agreement with the neighbouring builders, who asked her to temporarily move elsewhere. Ms Zarb Cousin said that she had nowhere to go. The structural damage had also cost her dearly, because she was no longer able to host English language students booked for this summer, she complained.

As if that were not enough, Ms Zarb Cousin pointed out the construction site, where no work was done during the summer months, had become a mosquito, rat and cockroach haven, the latter creeping inside her sitting room through the cracks.

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