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Homes warned to be ready for more rain
Buy this photo » County council workers Luke Lapage, left, and Ian Jakeman stacking sandbags at the council's Deddington depot
RESIDENTS were last night barricading their homes with sandbags as experts warned many more properties were likely to flood.
Officials warned eight waterways through Oxfordshire looked set to burst their banks and flood homes.
The Environment Agency had 21 waterways on flood alert, meaning flooding is possible, and one on flood warning, meaning flooding is expected, last night.
About 20mm of rain was expected between 6pm and midnight yesterday, along with winds of up to 60mph, and a further 20mm is expected tomorrow.
The Environment Agency said it was expecting to upgrade seven waterways in Oxfordshire from alert to warning overnight and early this morning.
It said was keeping a particularly close eye on the River Thames to the west of the county, the River Ock at Abingdon and River Windrush at Witney.
Eight homes in Bloxham and at least two homes in Leafield flooded on Wednesday.
Peter Rawcliffe, spokesman for Oxford Flood Alliance, said: “It is a very traumatic experience, which takes months to get over, if your property is flooded. I would not wish it on anyone.
“More money needs to be spent nationally, bearing in mind that money spent on flood defences is extremely well spent. In one flood you might have saved the money spent on the scheme.”
His home in South Hinksey flooded in 2000, 2003 and 2007.
Julie Lawrence, of Bullstake Close, Oxford, flooded in 2007, but said defence barriers and ditch-clearing in her area since then had alleviated her fears.
The 54-year-old said: “We had a lot of rain over the summer period and we have not flooded, so it feels perhaps they have sorted it out.
“If all this rain fell in 2007 we would have definitely flooded by now.”
Ian Tomes, Environment Agency area flood risk manager, said about 24 officers were out in Oxfordshire yesterday clearing blockages in the waterways.
He said: “River levels are quite high.
“We had nearly 25mm of rain on Wednesday and another 20mm was expected overnight, and we are expecting seven flood warnings to be issued and property flooding off the back of that.
“The Thames in Oxford is not an immediate concern but it could be if water patterns continue as they are over the next few days.”
He said a £10,000 operations centre, which opened earlier this month and contains the latest data-measuring and forecasting systems, was helping the agency deal with the situation.
He said: “We are able to have more professional staff in our incident room helping the public, helping our partners in Thames Valley Police, Oxfordshire County Council and the fire and rescue service, giving out information and managing the flooding incidents.”
Mr Tomes said residents in a warning area should consider moving possession upstairs, moving cars to higher ground and putting into action flood defence measures such as sandbags.
The county council has continued to deliver flood boards and sandbags to areas hit by flooding.
Emergency planning officer Bethan Morgan said: “With a further band of heavy rain we can expect further flooding problems on the roads and a potential risk of flooding to properties.
“All agencies are continuing to work closely together to minimise the impact of flooding problems and respond to incidents as they emerge.
“Once again we would advise people to drive safely and be prepared for journeys to take a little longer.”
Flooding yesterday affected the A417 at East Challow, the B4027 in Woodeaton and the A44 through Oxfordshire, as well as the High Street in Oddington.