Christmas nightmare as waters rise again

Christmas nightmare as waters rise again

Tom Horton, 18, on the steps at the block of flats where he lives in Osney Court

A cyclist negotiates the partially-flooded Abingdon Road

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter. Call me on (01865) 425373

MORE than a foot of filthy water has turned Christmas into a nightmare for residents in Osney Court.

People were shocked yesterday to see a repeat of the flooding which hit in mid-November and left them stranded in their homes.

Abingdon Road stayed open to traffic but remained on the brink of flooding throughout the day. Pools of water to the side of the road prompted the Oxford Bus Company to avoid some stops.

The housing block off Botley Road, in West Oxford, was hit by rising groundwater levels on Monday that left them unable to use their toilets.

Then after Wednesday night’s rain its courtyard was completely submerged, leaving neighbours with their wheelie bins floating and festive rubbish piled high outside their doors.

And two out of three portable toilets supplied by the housing association which manages the court, Home Group, were quickly rendered useless by the floodwater.

Stranded residents said they were offered the choice of evacuating to Blackbird Leys Community Centre, but many chose to stay put.

Cheryle Bowman, 30, said: “I can’t believe it’s happened again, after last month’s flooding. We’re all pitching in and looking after each other, it’s a tight-knit community.

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“But it has been a nightmare. We only have one toilet for the whole court to use.”

Thomas Horton, 18, added: “It has been pretty bad – you’ve got families here and they’re stuck inside.”

Residents in Abingdon Road were on tenterhooks hoping to avoid a repeat of last month’s flooding. Retired Yvonne Bayliss, 77, was stuck in her home for four days in November and said she was terrified of it happening again.

Ms Bayliss said: “You can’t see how deep the water is or where the pavements are. I couldn’t get out for four days last time.”

Weirs Lane resident Jim Webb, 78, said: “We are biting our fingernails here.”

Brian Durham, co-chairman of Oxford Flood Alliance and a Lake Street resident, said: “The first puddles began to appear last night at about midnight so it has come up quite fast. You would expect there to be signs up but they are meant to be coming today.”

Last night the Environment Agency erected flood barriers in Vicarage Lane off Abingdon Road.

BRACED FOR MORE

RESIDENTS have been warned to expect continued weather misery as experts said more rain and strong winds are to batter Oxfordshire over the weekend.

Downpours forced the closure of several roads yesterday as emergency defence teams kicked into gear.

While the rain eased off in the afternoon the Met Office predicted 10 and 15mm was to fall overnight last night, with scattered showers predicted for tomorrow and Sunday. A further 20mm was expected over the weekend.
Straining river levels prompted action from the Environment Agency as it urged residents to stay vigilant.

It said residents in at-risk areas, particularly those near the River Thames, must look at installing defences.

The river level at Iffley Lock was 0.72 metres, nearly four times it’s usual height and just millimetres lower than the record-breaking 2007 level. Despite some waterways being removed from flood warning, a number along the River Thames were still in place last night.

They were its tributaries at Sandford and Radley near Oxford; in Abingdon, and from Henley down to Medmenham including Remenham and Mill End; at Kennington; from Days Lock down to South Stoke, Benson, Wallingford, North Stoke and Moulsford; tributaries at New Botley, New and North Hinksey and Grandpont in Oxford; Binsey, Osney and Osney Island areas in Oxford; and between Newbridge and Kings Lock above Oxford including Northmoor, Stanton Harcourt, Bablock Hythe and caravan park, Eynsham, Swinford and Yarnton.

TRANSPORT HIT FOR SECOND TIME

OXFORDSHIRE’S transport network was hit by flooding for the second time in a month yesterday.

Problems were reported on trains and buses and motorists were forced to drive through water in heavily-flooded roads.

But unlike the flooding problems that hit Oxford in November, Oxfordshire County Council avoided closing Abingdon Road.

Contingency plans were in place to open High Street in Oxford to traffic to ease travel problems, but as of last night they had not been put in place.
Rodney Rose, the council’s deputy leader, said: “We’re thinking of the businesses in Oxford.

“This time of year is precious to them and we want to do everything possible to avoid trade being hit.”

Yesterday Oxford Bus Company suspended use of the bus stops at the junctions of Abingdon Road and Chatham Road in both directions because of standing floodwater.

Elsewhere drivers were faced with closures at Clifton Hampden, Long Wittenham; Chipping Norton Hill in Ascott Under Wychwood; Lower Street in Islip; Sibford Road in Hook Norton; the Stadhampton road in Drayton St Leonard; the footpath from Woodford Mill to Hailey Road in Witney; and the towpath from Donnington Bridge Road to Abingdon Road and on to Whitehouse Road.

Ferry Hinksey Road and Binsey Lane in West Oxford were also waterlogged.

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