RESIDENTS across Oxfordshire were last night holding the line as flooding hit the county, with more expected today.
While many praised the flood defence systems in place, such as the 1,900m of pipes cleared in South Hinksey and Kennington last summer, others warned they are not enough to help everybody.
As residents and businesses began counting the cost of flooding, chairman of Oxford Flood Alliance Dr Peter Rawcliffe said while work to protect homes was proving effective more needed to be done. He said: “The flood water is getting away more quickly than it used to.
“The work that has been done south of Oxford in the Kennington area does add up over the years.”
More than 3,000 sandbags were handed out across the county – including 1,500 in West Oxfordshire – as river levels continued to rise and some homes in parts of Oxford were flooded.
Last night, 10 flood warnings were in place including the River Thames between Newbridge and Kings Lock – affecting Northmoor, Stanton Harcourt, Bablock Hythe, Eynsham and Yarnton.
And the agency warned of further flooding today and tomorrow with further heavy rainfall expected last night and today.
Spokeswoman Narinder Sokhi said: “River levels are high throughout Oxfordshire and we expect that they will continue to rise.
“There is a risk of flooding and we urge people to listen out for our flood alerts and warnings and take the necessary action.”
The Met Office recorded 6.2mm of rain in Brize Norton and 5.6mm in Benson on Sunday, with more predicted for today.
Many residents said it could have been a lot worse and that flood defence systems installed in recent years following the devastating floods of 2007 had helped alleviate the impact.
Dr Rawcliffe said the various schemes in place had led to the water going away quicker than it would have done and added: “But it may not be enough to stop flooding for everybody. Oxford certainly needs more.”
Abingdon Road, Ferry Hinksey Road, Binsey Lane and the link road from the A34 to South Hinksey were among the roads closed in the county because of flooding, as well as the Seacourt Park-and-Ride off Botley Road.
And a number of businesses including Richer Sounds in Botley Road were closed yesterday because of the rising water levels.
The Environment Agency issued a number of flood warnings – meaning flooding is expected – throughout the day including for the River Thames around Binsey, Osney and Osney Island areas in Oxford and in Abingdon.
Flood waters at Claire Wilson’s South Hinksey home
Mother-of-one Claire Wilson was one of the residents affected, as water flooded her Manor Road home in South Hinksey.
The 48-year-old teacher, who has lived in the village for nine years, said the flooding in 2007 was worse when there was 13in of water in her home, causing about £30,000 worth of damage.
She said: “Since then we have done things to make it more manageable.
“We had a pump put in in 2007. Last year it kept the water down to this level.
“We are the lowest house in the village and the nearest to the floodplain.”
Of the forecast rain she added: “It is a bit of a worry.
“What is stressful for us is dealing with the insurance companies. It is such a long process. The real hope is that this time we won’t have to make a claim.”
Grandfather-of-two Colin Howes has had his home in Bullstake Close flooded three times, in 2000, 2003 and 2007.
The 75-year-old said: “Because of our experiences we have become prepared. We have got stuff off the ground and all the valuables upstairs.”
Ann Sloper, 74, of Bullstake Close, said: “It is not as bad as 2007. But everybody is on edge.”
IF you are at risk of flooding:
Fit flood boards on doors, use sandbags, and fit toilet bungs on downstairs toilets
Put plugs in sinks and baths and weigh them down with a pillowcase or plastic bag filled with soil
Switch off water, gas and electricity at the mains when water is about to enter your home
Do not touch sources of electricity when standing in water
Disconnect equipment that uses water, like washing machines and dishwashers
Avoid walking or driving through flood water
The latest advice and details of flood alerts and warnings are available at environment-agency.gov.uk or call 0845 988 1188