AROUND 200 people were last night being advised to leave their homes near Botley Road as water threatened to flood their properties.

Oxford City Council recommended that residents living in Bullstake Close, Duke Street, Earl Street and Osney Court leave their homes after the Environment Agency last night warned that water levels were continuing to rise.

Pumps were in place to try to ease the flooding, but with sewage problems likely, people were urged to block up their toilets.

Residents of Osney Court said they were being offered alternative accommodation by housing association Home Group. 

However, resident Steven Church, 64, last night said he wanted to stay put.

“A housing officer came round today and gave us the option of evacuation to a hotel,” he said.

“They have left us the option of whether or not we wanted to stay here. I am on my own and have decided to stay, though I expect the water will rise further.

“The housing association has been brilliant, really helpful, the entire time.”

The Environment Agency predicted that the water levels would continue to rise last night.

A letter from Oxford City Council to locals said: “If this happens, it will probably overwhelm the existing defences and your home may flood.”

People were warned to look for other accommodation, move valuables upstairs, speak to insurers about cover and switch off electricity and gas Meanwhile, officials last night could not say when Botley Road might reopen.

Several firms were yesterday dealing with business being lost as engineers battled the slow overflow from nearby flood plains.

Sections worst hit were near McDonald’s and at Bullstake Close, opposite PC World – although pedestrians were taking advantage of the eerily quiet route to walk in en masse in the middle of the road.

On Botley Road, one shopkeeper found the lack of traffic which usually clogs the road a “wonderful” insight into how life must have been years ago.

A combination of workers from the city council, county council, Environment Agency and the Highways Agency were yesterday on the scene, stacking sandbags and pumping water from the streets.

There is no definite timescale on when it might reopen – but many locals praised the efforts of officials to tackle the waters.

Joe Devlin, 52, owner of convenience store Eggs Eggsetera, said customers were still visiting the shop.

He said: “In 2007, it was flooded on the paths outside this shop, but this time round they are not.

“It just goes to show that all the work the Environmental Agency has done has made a difference.”

Steve Stuart, 55, who jointly owns Warlands bike shop with Andy Holme, 44, said all their staff had made it to work.

Mr Stuart: “We are open and all members of staff made it except one, who could not get in because of diabolical traffic. We have people in from Witney, Iffley Road and Cowley Road. Botley Road this morning was like being back in Victorian times. Everyone was walking or cycling. It was wonderful.

“Shops are open because of staff members’ loyalty and determination. As a shop owner, I want to say thank-you to them and to other staff in shops like Eggs Eggsetera for keeping things normal.”

Some motorists were allowed on to Botley Road to get to work, but many turned away and faced long journeys in.

Some parked up as far away as Cumnor before coming into the city.