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OAPs flooded out of homes for New Year
Firefighters lead 82-year-old George Robinson and his wife Helen, 78, from their flooded ground-floor flat in Hanover Housing Association flats in Bicester on Christmas Eve
ELDERLY residents may have to wait two months before they can return to their homes after a river burst its banks.
Flooding forced 55 people out of sheltered housing apartments in Hanover Gardens in Bicester on Christmas Eve when the River Bure surged to 10ft deep.
The water resulted in power and heating failures, forcing some residents to stay in a local care home or in a Travelodge off the M40.
Many others stayed with friends and family.
But they had to spend Christmas away from home, and many of them may have to wait two months before they can return to their properties.
And, despite not wanting to leave the block, three elderly residents – including a 100-year-old – are now staying at not-for-profit care home Langford View, in Coach House Mews, Bicester.
Nigel Sellar, 75, was one of the last to leave Hanover Gardens for the care home – which is run by the Order of St John – when the waters started rising.
He said: “It rained overnight and then first thing in the morning it had flooded all along and into the front of the building.
“I live near the back, but it was coming up towards my door. “There was no heating because the boiler room was flooded.
“And all the alarm systems in the rooms went out of action because the power went out.
“That was why we finally had to move out, because otherwise someone could have fallen and no-one would have known.”
Also evacuated to Langford View was 100-year-old Dolly Ashwell, who said it was the first time in her eight years at the building that it had flooded.
But despite the inconvenience, she said she still had a good Christmas.
“They couldn’t have sent us to a better place,” she said.
“It’s been wonderful. We got Christmas presents and everybody has been lovely.”
The River Bure was redirected from one side of Manorsfield Road in 2010 to the other to make way for the new £70m town centre redevelopment.
Bicester town councillor Richard Mould, who lives in nearby Hunt Close, said he felt he knew what had happened when the flooding occurred.
“I think it was the sheer volume of water and it overwhelmed the culvert,” he said.
“It rose very quickly overnight. At 10pm, I don’t suppose it was more than a couple of feet. “At 5am, when I looked out it was coming over the bank into Hanover Gardens.
“I have not seen it at that height and I have lived here 25 years.”
Town councillor for housing, Debbie Pickford, said she did not know how long it would be before all of the occupants of Hanover Gardens could go home. But she said it could take a “couple of months”.
“They have been evacuated for safety reasons, although the upstairs people will be okay to come back soon,” she said.
”It doesn’t always get repaired in a week. It is rather a long-term thing. It sometimes takes a couple of months by the time everything has been done.”
Hanover Housing Association spokesman Rob Ghosh said yesterday that it was waiting for contractors and insurance loss adjusters to arrive and all the residents remained in temporary accommodation.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said it was assisting at the scene and would try to establish what had caused the flood.
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