Thames villages brace for floods

The Oxford Times: A car drives through flood water as the River Thames burst its bank and flooded roads and property in Chertsey in Surrey A car drives through flood water as the River Thames burst its bank and flooded roads and property in Chertsey in Surrey

Communities along the banks of the River Thames become the latest to be hit by flooding.

More than a dozen severe flood warnings were issued from Datchet to Shepperton Green, including Ham Court and Chertsey, as river levels became extremely high.

The Berkshire village of Datchet was severely hit as flooding blocked roads and train tracks.

Residents and shop owners waited for sandbags tonight and each delivery was greeted by a surge of activity, with some filling large plastic containers to enable them to carry as many as possible.

Local businesswoman Isabel Gil, who wanted to protect the entrance to her interior design studio, said: "I would have thought there would be a lot of sandbags all prepared in advance for this situation but they seem like gold dust. I can't get hold of any," she said.

"I've lived here for 25 years and I've never seen anything like this before.

"We saw higher (water) levels than ever last month and we thought that was going to be it hopefully.

"Now it's even worse. It's never come up like this in the middle of the village."

Ms Gil said the flooding had disrupted the entire village.

"It's impossible, you can't do anything," she said. "Everything grinds to a halt."

Tracey Green, 43, said: "If we get more rain tonight and tomorrow I think it's going to be quite rough. We're already prepared at home. We've moved stuff upstairs. It's bad, really bad.

"I hope they've got some sort of SOS plan in mind. There's a lot of elderly people in this village."

She added: "I think it could be potentially quite bad. Somerset and what's going on there at the moment is evidence of that. (I'm) dreading it to be honest."

Adam Afriyie, Conservative MP for Windsor, went to Datchet to show support for his constituents.

He said: "It's quite devastating. I live in Old Windsor and my heart really goes out to people.

"We have got hundreds of homes flooded, businesses that are shutting down and there are some real questions to be asked of the Environment Agency and others.

"But right now we've got to focus on making sure that everybody is safe and making sure that premises are as secure as they can be."

Residents in Staines were woken by telephone flood alerts as the Thames submerged a footpath and began to move towards homes on Laleham Road.

Denise Bristow, 63, said: ''We've been living here for 30 years and we've never seen it so high.

''We got a phone call from the Environment Agency at 7.30am with a flood alert.

''It is concerning. What will happen if it gets into the houses? You can't move everything. What if you've got heavy furniture?''

Her husband Fred, 65, was keen to make the most of the situation.

''I came out to get a few photographs to catch something different,'' he said.

Richard Fox, 67, said: ''I have lived in Staines all my life and as far as I'm aware this is just about as bad as it's ever been.''

He went on: ''The Thames Path which runs all the way along is completely obliterated.''

Station manager Paul Jones of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, who was among the emergency services personnel rescuing residents from their homes in Staines, said: ''I've been in the fire brigade for a long time and I've never seen water at this depth before and the amount of people that we're actually having to rescue.

''The amount of calls we're getting to rescues at the moment is unprecedented.

''We've got crews that are constantly out.''

A mother and daughter were rescued by a fire brigade boat after their home in Staines became cut off by water.

Sujata Jolly, 65, said: ''The water was almost up to my neck.

''We have been stranded for a week.''

Her daughter, Sapna Jolly, 40, added: ''Outside our house the water level is six-feet high.

''It was quite concerning. We wanted to come out as soon as we could with the weather turning tomorrow.''

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