Rivers on flood alert as heavy rain on the way

The Oxford Times: The River Thames by Bossoms Boatyard The River Thames by Bossoms Boatyard

FAMILIES in Oxfordshire were last night warned they face a third bout of serious flooding, with half the month’s rainfall expected this week.

Up to 30mm is forecast to fall across the county by Friday, when January would normally see 60mm.

The Environment Agency warned that with river levels high and the ground saturated from previous downpours and snow, flooding is a real risk.

Dave Ferguson, Environment Agency spokesman, said: “If we are talking about property flooding, yes there is a risk with heavy rainfall.

“People need to be alert and be aware of their risk and take appropriate action. A lot of the rainfall we had at the end of last year means the ground is very wet and the rivers are high in some places.”

The latest weather warning comes as news that work has still not begun on a £1m flood alleviation project by Network Rail at Hinksey Stream, near Kennington, that experts say would ease flooding in South Hinksey, Osney, Binsey and Abingdon Road.

The Network Rail scheme involves a 900m surface water sewer and clearing a drainage pond. Last night the company failed to comment on the lack of progress.

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “It hasn’t started yet but you can be assured both Nicola Blackwood and I are keeping up the pressure.”

Yesterday the Highways Agency delayed work to culvert drains maintenance along the A34 for two weeks. They declined to comment on the reason why.

Last night there were 16 Oxfordshire waterways on Flood Alert, meaning flooding is possible.

The river level at Wheatley, usually between 3.6m and 5.24m, was 5.4m and the level at Stadhampton, typically between 0.57m and 2m, was 2.31m.

The county saw major flooding at the end of November and in the days before Christmas.

Residents in Osney Court off Botley Road were stranded in their homes and unable to use their toilets.

Mum-of-three Stella Moore, 22, said: “I am worried, but there is not much we can do really. It was really bad last time.”

Pat Rooney, 69, of Osney Court, said she was concerned as she relies on a mobility scooter to get around.

She said: “Last time I couldn’t go out for 10 days and my husband had to wade through it.”

Catherine King lives in Western Road, which also flooded badly in November and December.

She said: “Yes I am concerned.

“The ground is just sodden there is nowhere else for the water to go.”

South Hinksey resident Peter Rawcliffe, of Oxford Flood Alliance, said: “We just do what the Environment Agency advises, we are on an alert.

“It is always possible, let’s hope we get away with it.”

Mr Ferguson said it was difficult to say whether residents would see a repeat of the flooding in November and December, when there were several showers of sustained heavy rainfall of 20mm-30mm.

Met forecaster Charlie Powell told the Oxford Mail yesterday that 10-15mm of rain was expected in the next 48 hours and then heavy showers were forecast for much of Friday, with 10-15mm of rain in a 24 hour period.

He said: “There is fairly wet and windy weather to come.”

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