Watching as the water rises

First published in News by

Firefighters and residents in Oxford are continuing to play the waiting game as experts warned flood waters still had not peaked.

Hundreds of residents in Osney Island, Grandpont, South Hinksey, Kennington, Abingdon Road and the Botley Road area were all bracing themselves ahead of the expected climax of the floods in the early hours of tomorrow.

Firefighters were also preparing for water rescues and evacuations from the worst hit areas.

Environment Agency spokesman Tim Abbott said the River Thames remained on severe flood alert and added: "It looks like it's going to peak Tuesday morning fairly early.

"The Abingdon Road, Botley Road and South Hinksey areas have had flooding but we don't know what numbers yet.

"We will be keeping an eye on the weather forecasts and tracking the rain but we can never predict where exactly it's going to affect."

About 100 firefighters were stationed throughout Oxford today and two high-volume pumps remained on standby. A delivery of an extra 40,000 sandbags was also expected to arrive. Water first appeared on the streets of South Hinksey in the early hours of the morning - reaching properties in Manor Road by 7.30am.

Six inches of water covered parts of Abingdon Road by midday, having risen quickly since the road first flooded at about 10am.

In Osney Island residents were still waiting for the River Thames to burst its banks - having already had three false alarms since Friday's torrential downpour.

In nearby Osney Mead, firefighters and members of the Environment Agency continued to pump water out of a flooded basement at Southern Electric's Osney Mead sub-station.

The crew cleared five feet of water from the basement of the station - which provides electricity to 5,500 homes in the city centre and South Oxford - on Sunday night before resuming their struggle today.

A Southern Electric spokesman said no homes had lost power yesterday unless there had been a request from the owner or emergency services.

Simon Belcher, station manager of Kidlington Fire Station, said evacuations were likely as the floods peaked.

Mr Belcher said: "The information that the Environment Agency has given us is that the River Thames is going to burst its banks and there will be extensive flooding in Oxford. We will try to pump people's homes out but our priority will be with rescuing people. If that means rescuing people over saving someone's home we will be rescuing people."

On Friday a record 126.2mm (five inches) of rain fell at Brize Norton.

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