WITH rising river levels threatening further flooding in Oxford, experts have warned the worst is yet to come.

While the volume of rainfall has reduced, the Environment Agency said river levels would continue rising over the next 36 hours, posing a major threat to the 10,000 properties across the county already on flood warning.

Residents living near the River Thames have been urged to take preventative measures to avoid water coming into their homes.

Yesterday the county’s flooding problems finally hit Oxford, causing major disruption for residents, business, schools and transport. Another 5mm of rain fell overnight in Oxfordshire on Monday, pushing swollen floodplains and bloated riverbanks to their peaks by yesterday morning.

According to the Met Office 43.7mm of rain has fallen on Oxford since last Thursday. That is roughly one seventh of the 309.8mm which fell in the whole of 2007, the year of the last severe flooding.

According to the Environment Agency, the River Cherwell was last night 10cm higher than during the highest point of the 2007 floods.

Last night low levels of rainfall were being forecast for today, tomorrow and Friday, ranging from none to 8mm. But any extra rain will only add to the pressure on river banks. Yesterday a further four properties across the county were added to the 14 that were flooded on Monday. In the city, Abingdon Road was most severely struck, with residents trapped in their homes as water lapped up to their front doors. West Oxford was also badly affected. Firefighters were seen rescuing drivers from cars stuck in knee-high water. They also carried children across the flooding in front of their homes at the most severely affected area.

Flood barriers were expected to remain in place today at Bullstake Close, Lake Street, Abingdon Road, East Street, Vicarage Lane (Grandpont) and at Osney Island because the water is showing no signs of subsiding.

A flood evacuation centre in Blackbird Leys set up on Monday evening was unused that night. But one family with small children did need to use the centre after leaving their home yesterday afternoon.

Abingdon Road in Oxford was “like a river” according to eyewitnesses, and the road was closed yesterday following flooding from the nearby Thames.

The road remained shut last night as an ongoing concern. Fire crews and 12 Environment Agency ambassadors set up a makeshift headquarters to oversee the situation.

Pumps were also sent to Bullstake Close in West Oxford to drain huge amounts of floodwater which had built up since Monday.

Uncertainty over the rising river levels has cast doubt over whether Seacourt park-and-ride, Binsey Lane in Oxford and Manor Road, South Hinksey would reopen today.

Financial experts at James Cowper accounts estimated the cost to the local economy could run into eight figures.

Sue Staunton, a partner in James Cowper’s Oxford office said: “Based on the impact of the 2007 floods and evidence all around, there can be no doubt that the impact on householders and business in Oxfordshire will run to tens of millions of pounds.

“We should also be proud of local businesses, which are in many cases striving to ensure business as usual.”

The Thames had nine flood warnings through Oxfordshire, at tributaries at Wolvercote in Oxford, Abingdon, Binsey, Osney and Osney Island areas in Oxford. And tributaries at New Botley, New and North Hinksey and Grandpont in Oxford, Days Lock down to South Stoke, Kennington, and Newbridge and Kings Lock above Oxford.