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County counting cost of the latest flooding
10:30am Tuesday 4th December 2012 in Countywide
THE bill for flood damage is likely to run into six figures for Oxfordshire County Council, as residents and businesses count the cost.
Hundreds of staff, from emergency services to council officers, are filing their overtime claims following 12 days of rain.
The final flood warnings were removed from Oxfordshire’s rivers yesterday and flood defence barriers taken down as the attention turned to totting up the expense.
Council leader Ian Hudspeth said the numbers aren’t known yet, but expected staff pay alone to run into tens of thousands of pounds.
He said: “The biggest resource has been overtime and that will come in claims, but we didn’t put a financial limit on it. We should know in the next week or two.
“I don’t know how much an individual sandbag costs, but I do know we used something like 4,000 of them.
“We also had the fire and rescue teams out, and some of those guys were on call 24 hours a day.”
Mr Hudspeth praised the actions of volunteers and his emergency planning team which learned lessons from 2007’s floods.
He said: “We were much better prepared this time than in 2007, with things like the evacuation of the old people’s home. Last time the call wasn’t made until about 11pm, which disrupted the residents, but this time it was made much earlier.”
A statement from the county council said: “In this sort of situation the priority for all agencies is to do whatever is necessary to deal with the problems.
“We have not counted the number of county council employees involved in dealing with the floods, but the numerous staff that were involved came from a wide variety of services.”
Financial experts at Oxford-based accountants James Cowper said the cost to the Oxfordshire economy would run into tens of millions.
It said the lost working hours, damage to businesses and insurance claims, the closure of pubs and clubs, schools and roads would all have to be factored in.
Businesses in Abingdon Road, Oxford, said they suffered particularly due to the lengthy closure of the road.
Chris Green, of Oxford Furniture Warehouse, said: “We are open again, but people don’t know. There was no-one in at all over the weekend.
“It’s been awful. In 2007 it cost us about £30,000, and this time it has been much worse.”
With about 20 flooded properties in Oxfordshire – including about 12 in Western Road, Grandpont, Oxford, alone – many homeowners are also now filing insurance claims.
The Environment Agency said 31 properties were flooded, and it had about 250 staff working in Oxfordshire.
Liz Lyons, 31, whose home in Buckingham Street, Grandpont, was flooded, said: “It looks like the structural work will be the biggest job.
“The claim might be between the region of £25,000 to £30,000.”