FIRE crews worked through the night to get flooding in Oxford under control, but there are fears further extreme weather will cause chaos in the days to come.
Abingdon Road was last night fully reopened after workers pumped water for more than 12 hours.
But with sleet and snow forecast today, and a further deluge of rain tomorrow, the situation could get worse before it gets better.
- A view from the air of Abingdon Road, Oxford, submerged in flood water
- Picture: www.airexperiences.co.uk
Mike Adcock, Rewley Road station manager, said: “We have had a presence on Abingdon Road since 6pm on Tuesday and we expect to be working here for the foreseeable future.”
Maryann Loughran, who lives in Abingdon Road, said: “I’m glad they’re sorting it out – and I take my hat off to the people who have been out all night.”
But the mother-of-three said: “This should have happened before. Why has it taken them so long?”
- Abingdon Road resident Maryann Loughran
Oxfordshire fire service area manager Nigel Wilson said it was the first time the “Oxford Method” had been used on Abingdon Road, with three hoses used to create a barrier and pump water from the road surface.
Wayne Gray, manager of Fat Phil’s angling shop, was relieved the road had reopened.
He said: “People think you’re shut if the road is shut, and now I can park up here rather than miles away, so it makes it easier for us who work here too.”
Mohammad Afsal, 75, owner of the Nisa shop in Abingdon Road, said: “It means it’s not like a ghost town any more. It was really scary with no-one coming through and with all the water.
“I wish they could have done it a bit earlier to prevent the water from getting here in the first place.”
Oxford City Council was continuing to plan for the worst, with thousands of sandbags being prepared at the Redbridge Park-and-Ride site for residents at the bottom of Abingdon Road.
Grounds maintenance worker Scott Moor was among those busy bagging sand.
He said: “Everyone is working their hardest. We’ve got Botley Road and Abington Road on watch 24/7, but I’m praying we won’t be needed.”
- County council grounds maintenance worker Scott Moor
In Botley Road firefighters were continuing to use the “Oxford Method”, coined by Local Government Minister Eric Pickles during a visit to the city on Tuesday.
Station manager Simon Sumners said: “We’re expecting more rain and we’re expecting to have to be stationed on Botley Road for some time.”
While residents welcomed some relief from the rain yesterday, they remained worried about what was to come.
Mary Timbrell, 76, who volunteers as a flood warden in Duke Street, said people should not get complacent.
She said: “I’m sending a letter out, saying: ‘Don’t get your hopes up and keep your sandbags in place because it may flood again’.”
- Duke Street flood warden Mary Timbrell
James Robertshaw, who is building an annexe in Duke Street, was also worried about further rain.
He said: “It has been quite a worry and I’m having to protect the building from the weather.”
Environment Agency officers were yesterday operating pumps in Duke Street, Earl Street and Osney Yard, in West Oxford.
Temporary flood defences remained in place in Osney Island and at Hinksey Lake, South Oxford.
Howard Davidson, Environment Agency regional director, said: “With further rain expected in the coming days, after the wettest January on record in England, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.”
Rodney Rose, Oxfordshire county councillor with responsibility for flooding, defended its speed in getting roads reopened.
He said “We don’t act without making sure that firstly we protect houses. Reopening blocked roads is our second interest.
“We did have worries that pumping water into the allotments would be putting more houses at risk, but we have taken professional advice from the Environment Agency.”