FREAK weather brought thunderstorms and torrential downpours to Gloucestershire at the weekend when one village saw the most rain there since records began.
Storms wreaked havoc across the county, cancelling dozens of events, and Westonbirt – dubbed the wettest place in Britain on Saturday – saw 79mm of rainfall, well over July’s monthly average.
Met Office forecasters said reliable observations for rainfall over the village began in 1979 and not once has it exceeded the monthly average of 60.6mm – until last weekend.
Simon Hough, recreation manager at Westonbirt Arboretum, said: “It was quite good we hit the record books and there definitely was a spectacular amount of rain. We had some localised damage to some of the paths as some of the drains couldn’t cope but the trees stood up very well and we didn’t have anything struck by lightning despite a 12-hour thunderstorm – the weather threw everything at us.”
Some residents may see it as a miracle there was no repeat of the great floods of 2007, which led to four deaths and devastation for 4,500 homes.
And Zog Ziegler, whose home lies on the banks of the River Severn in Tirley, said many people should be thankful for the pleasant weather in the spring as events could have turned out much differently. “We had a reasonably dry June and July and the ground did not get soggy at all really,” said Zog, whose home was under 5ft of weather seven years ago.
Parts of France were also battered by storms but Met Office spokesman Nicola Maxey said some areas of the South West did not see any rain at all.
Adeline Raine, who lives in Ashleworth, said: “I was in Devon for the weekend and we didn’t have any rain at all, not a drop, and it was brilliant.”
Since 2007, Gloucestershire County Council said it has contributed to more than 160 flood alleviation schemes across the country. In October, 2012, more grants of £1.1million were made available to district councils which resulted in a further 30 flood defence schemes. Last month, a further 13 flood defence schemes were announced for the county with overall investment of £758,000.
Councillor Vernon Smith, county cabinet member for flooding, said: “To date, we have spent £48million on flood alleviation since 2007 and by the Environment Agency’s own statement, we managed to protect more than 500 properties from flooding.”
Anthony Perry, area flood risk manager for the Environment Agency, said around 14,000 properties in the county are at risk of river flooding but since 2007, it has spent more than £66.5million to protect homes, land and infrastructure.
Examples of flood alleviation schemes completed in the Severn and Wye River catchments in Gloucestershire since 2007
River Chelt Flood Alleviation Scheme, Cheltenham
• Environment Agency led improvement works to the existing scheme were undertaken.
• 650 properties are protected by River Chelt Flood Alleviation Scheme, and improvement works since 2007 cost £3.9 million.
• 300 properties flooded from the Horsbere Brook in July 2007 (in Longford, Longlevens, Elmbridge, Hucclecote and Brockworth).
• The Environment Agency led Horsbere scheme has reduced flood risk to 350 properties at a cost of £1.9 million.
• Horsbere flood storage area has a capacity of 150,000 cubic metres.
• 70 homes and businesses are protected by this Environment Agency led scheme, which cost £600,000.
Deerhurst, near Tewkesbury
• This Environment Agency led scheme protects 25 properties and cost £450,000, including a contribution from the community.
Daniels Brook, Gloucester
• 160 homes in Tuffley were flooded by Daniels Brook in July 2007.
• The Environment Agency led £1.2million scheme reduced the flood risk for 196 properties.
Lydney, Forest of Dean
• This Environment Agency led scheme protects 61 properties and cost £720,000.
Examples of flood alleviation schemes completed in the Cotswold area of Gloucestershire
The River Churn Flood Risk Management Strategy, Cirencester, Cotswold District
• The Environment Agency has spent approximately £2million on the first phase of the strategy.
• The Environment Agency estimates 155 properties will be protected by the project.
Bourton on the Water, Cotswold District
• The Environment Agency spent £107,000 on this scheme, completed in 2010.
• Modelling work, due to be completed by the end of June, will enable the Environment Agency to confirm the number of properties protected by the scheme.
Bledington, Cotswold District
• The Environment Agency spent £76,000 on this project which was completed in 2010
• Approximately 11 properties are protected by the scheme.