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Gloucestershire weather and flooding: Atlantic storm force winds set to batter county

By The Citizen  |  Posted: February 07, 2014

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  • Villagers in Chaceley

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Gloucestershire authorities are prepared for potential disruption due to the weather this weekend.

Further rain and high winds are forecast throughout tonight and Saturday while river water levels will remain elevated.

Superintendent Bridget Woodhall said: "The main concern is the potential for some structural damage and trees blocking roads, particularly in the Forest of Dean.

"Please drive with care and consideration this weekend and report any incidents by calling 101. Our lines could be busy so we would appreciate your patience. You can also email us at 101@gloucestershire.police.uk.

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"Our advice for residents in areas at risk of flooding is to continue to monitor the Environment Agency's website for flood alerts and warnings.

"River levels are due to peak on Monday and Tuesday and, in the worst case scenario we could see up to 50 more properties affected so we will be prepared to help evacuate any communities if necessary.

"In the meantime I know the local authorities have plans in place to check on residents' welfares and keep them informed of the situation."

On Friday night police closed A417 at Maisemore due to flooding. At the time of writing, Gloucestershire Police could not say when the road might reopen

Dafydd Evans, Area Manager for the Environment Agency, said: “With further heavy rain falling over the next few days, we expect rivers, particularly the Severn, to continue to rise and remain high for some time. I urge people to check their risk and prepare. Our flood warnings are updated every 15 minutes on our website, or call Floodline on 0345 9881188.”

Area Highways Manager Jason Humm, of Gloucestershire Highways, said: “We are anticipating high winds and heavy rainfall this weekend and extra teams are on standby, ready to respond. Meanwhile we are continually assessing the situation in the county and we would urge people to avoid driving through flood water - they won’t know how deep the waters or the potential dangers hidden below the surface."

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service crews are, as always, ready to respond to emergencies in the county.

Richard Rogers, waste water manager for Severn Trent said: “We’re aware that even more bad weather is coming and we’re working hard to get ready for it. We’ve already got plenty of staff on the phones in our call centre and lots of teams available out and about across the region to deal with flooding issues. We’re also out and about keeping an eye on those areas with a high risk of flooding.

“Unfortunately, in stormy weather, the drains and sewers often have significantly more water flowing through them. When we get a lot of rain in one go, it has a hard time sinking into the ground; so it just runs off the surface and goes directly into drains and sewers.”

And Richard is offering the following advice for customers who are experiencing flooding:

“If you have flooding at your home, check to see if it’s just rainwater or if it’s sewage that has come from an overflowing sewer, possibly through a manhole cover in your garden or outside your property. If it’s just rainwater, the flooding should subside when it stops raining, although it can take up to four hours for water to drain away, so be patient. Where sewage is escaping this is obviously a priority for us, so please call us on 0800 783 4444 and we’ll get a team out to help as quickly as possible.

“If you’re concerned about flooding from drains and gullies in the road, you should call the local council as they are responsible for road drainage, but again, we generally find that the flooding will go away when it stops raining.”

Councils in the Forest of Dean, Tewkesbury, Stroud and Gloucester City have confirmed they are ready to open rest centres if needed.

For up to date information, please follow @Glos_Prepared on Twitter using the hashtag #floodglos, or log onto the website www.glosprepared.co.uk.

Links to all the relevant agencies and public safety information can also be found at www.glosprepared.co.uk.

The Environment Agency has agreed to de-silt local river pinch points following a special request from Gloucestershire County Council

Today, 7th February, Cllr Vernon Smith, cabinet member for highways and flooding, met with Laurence Robertson MP and representatives from the Environment Agency to agree what more can be done to alleviate flooding from rivers.

As a result, over the next month Gloucestershire County Council will work with the Environment Agency to find projects which can contribute to action on the ground. They are likely to target pinch-points, such as inadequate culverts, blockages and de-silting works.

A second strand will look at the behaviour of floodwater on the River Severn and its floodplain between Tewkesbury and Gloucester, and again see what simple actions would get water into the estuary faster, and keep water levels down at Tewkesbury.

Cllr Vernon Smith, cabinet member for highways and flood, said: “I’ve been pushing to protect Gloucestershire homes since I was elected. Gloucestershire County Council has put £48 million into flood protection since 2007.

“This deal means that de-silting and other measures to cut the risk of flooding will now take place on those rivers. This is a great step forward, which will make a real difference in stopping Gloucestershire homes and businesses flooding in future.”

Laurence Robertson MP and Cllr Smith will meet the Secretary of State for Environment, Owen Patterson, to put forward Gloucestershire’s case for investment.

ATLANTIC storms could see more wind, rain and floods this weekend.

After last night’s downpour, today is expected to see a brief respite with sunny skies and temperatures hitting double figures .

But more storms are set to roll in tomorrow.

The Met Office has issued a yellow severe weather warning for Gloucestershire, urging residents to ‘be aware’, with an amber warning to ‘be prepared’ skirting the south of the county.

Flood warnings are in place for the River Severn at:

Ashleworth

Abbots Court, Deerhurst

Chaceley and Haw Bridge

Apperley and The Leigh

Severn Ham, Tewkesbury

There is also a flood warning for the River Wye from Hereford to Ross-on-Wye and a flod alert for the Wye in Gloucestershire.

Gloucester Citizen weather expert Ian Thomas said he has never seen such a constant barrage of north Atlantic fronts dumping rain over the South West before.

This video shows the storms which have been battering the UK over winter - but there is a monster one coming tomorrow.

An Extraordinary Winter of North Atlantic Storms from MSW on Vimeo.

Image and video from surfers' website Magicseaweed.com - check out their website

“I have never known it like this one,” he said.

“It’s not so much the amount of water but the persistent Atlantic barrages.

“One after another since mid-December they have come in. It’s been seven weeks now and there’s no sign of a let-up.

“December 2012 was actually wetter but not as stormy as the weather we have had this time around.”

High pressure will bring clear skies today but they are expected to give way to a low tomorrow and yet more heavy rain and high winds, swirling in from the west.

Ian Lock, landlord of the Boat Inn at Ashleworth, was forced to close the Severnside pub on safety grounds for part of this week but expects to reopen today.

Sandbags on top of the bund between the pub car park and the river saved him from flooding.

“The water is all around us but thankfully not in the pub,” he said.

“We have a lot more sandbags and they have kept the water away this time.”

Dawn Ray, who lives in a house on stilts in Sandhurst, after it flooded in 2007, said the waters are receding – for now.

“We are able to get through now but we haven’t for most of the week,” said Mrs Ray, who with husband Sam spent £100,000 demolishing their old house and rebuilding it on stilts next to the east channel of the River Severn.

“We used to be able to get through via the Walham power station but we can’t now the flood defences have been improved.

“If there was an emergency, we would be stuck.”

The Met Office’s chief forecaster confirmed the weekend will be a wet one with an Atlantic frontal system bringing a band of rain quickly eastwards tonight and early tomorrow, with 10 to 20mm falling and gales likely.

USEFUL WEATHER AND FLOODING LINKS

Environment Agency flood warnings in place in Gloucestershire

Latest Gloucestershire weather forecast

Glosprepared

Met Office

Gloucestershire County Council flooding advice

Interactive flooding map

Meanwhile with floodwater having surrounded their village since before Christmas, the people of Chaceley have had enough.

And yesterday they vented their frustration at the Environment Agency for not carrying out work to help them.

The parish council said it had suggested various schemes over the years but constantly had them rejected by the Environment Agency because they would cost too much.

Villagers now feel they have been ignored and forgotten about. While other nearby riverside villages, such as Deerhurst, have had flood alleviation schemes put in place, Chaceley remains unprotected.

This winter’s wet weather has left some of the 100 residents having great difficulty getting to and from their homes.

Flooding, some from the nearby River Severn and some due to rainfall run-off, has left a massive sea of water around the settlement and some villagers are using boats to get in and out of their homes.

Only one of the three main roads into the village is usable and some lanes within it are completely submerged.

Graham and Jackie Poole have been using a boat because the lane to their Rye Court Farm is several feet under water. Mr Poole said apart from about five or six days when it was accessible by tractor, they had been boating in and out since Christmas Day.

The 52-year-old, who keeps cattle and sheep, said: “Inconvenient is putting it mildly. Access to the sheep is cut off, although they’re on dry land.

“We’ve got stock that are fit to sell but we just can’t get them out to sell them.

“Basically, our business has been shut down since Christmas Day in terms of selling anything but our costs have been escalating.”

Tony Saxton, chairman of Chaceley’s parish council, has written to Environment Secretary Owen Paterson on the matter and said: “The cost of the emergency aid alone being given to the Somerset Levels is far beyond any expenditure Chaceley has been asking for, for many years now, and we wish to bring the plight of the villages along the west bank of the Severn to the attention of Government as they consider a future strategy.”

Mr Saxton said smaller schemes wanted by the parish, costing £10,000 and £127,000, had also been rejected by the agency.

Suzanne Bennett, for the Environment Agency, said schemes such as the one at Deerhurst had been done “where we have been able to demonstrate the cost of reducing flood risk is an economically viable use of taxpayers’ money”.

She said Deerhurst people had contributed a significant amount of money towards the scheme.

She added: “Unfortunately there is no viable publicly-funded flood alleviation scheme for Chaceley. Due to the dispersed locations of the properties at risk, the cost of protecting the village is high.

“It is not always possible to provide publicly-funded community schemes for all properties at risk.

“We understand the impact that flooding has on people who live in these small villages in the Severn flood plains. We have offered to support a bid for government funding for individual property protection schemes for Chaceley.

“We have been talking to the parish council about this and providing advice on how to prepare for a flood and reduce the impact on people and their property.

“During the winter we have so far received more than the average rainfall in Gloucestershire.

“This has resulted in flood levels remaining high for longer than usual.

“We appreciate this continues to be a difficult time for many people.”

Gloucestershire County Council launched its Local Flood Risk Management Strategy for the county on Wednesday.

Councillor Vernon Smith, (C, Tewkesbury East) the council’s cabinet member for highways and flood, was unimpressed with the agency’s response to villagers’ concerns and said he would raise them with its officials during talks today at Shire Hall.

He said: “I will be pointing out that to do nothing is no longer acceptable. “I’m fully aware of Chaceley and the problems its residents are having.

“The Environment Agency needs to step up to the plate.”

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