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Warnings issued six hours after flooding
From left, Sally Jenkins, her daughter Sophie Jenkins, 19, and Joe Whitelaw at the Red Lion pub in Main Street, Wendlebury. Main picture: Mark Hemsworth
THE Environment Agency has been forced to apologise to residents for failing to issue a warning until six hours after a village was flooded.
The move comes after seven homes in Wendlebury, near Bicester, were flooded on Thursday at about 2.30am. A flood alert was not issued by the Environment Agency until 8.30am.
Residents said it was the fifth time since 2001 that the village had flooded and problems started after the M40 and A41 dual carriageway were built.
The latest flood has also raised concerns that proposals for a new link road from the A41 across farmland near the village to Graven Hill will exacerbate the problem.
Heavy rain overnight on Wednesday overwhelmed the brook and water ran off surrounding fields, flooding Main Street and Rectory Close. At its peak there was a foot of water in places.
Former parish council chairman Jane Burrett awoke at 2.30am and alerted neighbours, which meant they could start pumping water away from homes in a bid to prevent serious flooding.
Joe Whitelaw and Sally Jenkins took over the Red Lion pub, in Main Street, just three weeks ago.
By 3.15am on Thursday the bar was flooded.
Mr Whitelaw said: “Water came in from the back, it comes running off the fields into the back. We were pumping out water from 3.15am and the water went down about 1.30pm.
“The biggest problem was the road at the front of the pub was flooded and people were driving really quickly, so the water was coming through the front door.”
Although the pub was forced to close for lunch, it reopened on Thursday evening.
Ms Jenkins said: “What was nice was how so many villagers came to help us. It was incredible how people pulled together.
“But it’s so wet out there that if we had another downpour, we would be in the same position again.”
Jackie Moles, whose garage off Main Street was flooded, said: “I have been here 40 years and that’s the worst I’ve ever seen it.”
Elsewhere June Pearce, of Old Rectory Close, borrowed a pump to prevent water and raw sewage getting into her house.
Wendlebury Parish Council chairman Julian Cordy said: “It was just the sheer weight of run-off coming from the land.
“It comes from three or four sources. The brook over-flowed, there was run-off from the land, the road drainage and the sewage system. They contribute to the problem.
“It’s not just an Environment Agency problem, it’s an overall infrastructure problem.
“We have big concerns a major new road come within 100 metres of the village is going to create a great deal more potential for future flooding and that’s one of the reasons we don’t want the road.”
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said there was 33mm of rainfall in six hours.
He said: “It’s clear that we should have issued a flood warning and that we failed to live up to the high standards we set for ourselves on this particular occasion and we apologise to those who were affected.”
- Middle Street in Islip and Mallards Way in Bicester are closed both ways because of flooding on Thursday. Flood alerts remained in place yesterday on the River Thame from Marsworth to Dorchester including Thame and Shabbington, the River Ock from Watchfield to Abingdon, the River Ray and its tributaries from Shipton Lee to Islip, and the Ginge Brook. Oxfordshire County Council yesterday placed flood warning signs at South Moreton, between Fulscot and South Moreton, south of Hadden Hill Golf Course. Football pitches in Langford Village flooded when Langford Brook burst its banks.