Flooding: Be prepared as more rain is on way

Herald Series: Huscote Flow Control Structure, part of Banbury's new flood defences Huscote Flow Control Structure, part of Banbury's new flood defences

FLOODING experts last night warned the worst could be yet to come with further drenchings on the way.

Homeowners are bracing themselves for more flooding as forecasters warned Oxfordshire was set for nearly the same amount of rain again.

Rivers across the county, including the River Thames, have risen steadily after the county saw 62.8mm of rain fall since Tuesday and a warning of flooding along the River Cherwell from Lower Heyford to Kidlington remained in force yesterday.

Forecasters expect up to 50mm of rain to fall between today and Monday.

And the misery could further increase this morning, with temperatures last night expected to drop below freezing overnight.

But the Environment Agency said flood defences installed since the devastating 2007 floods had helped save dozens of homes from flooding this week.

Ian Tomes, the agency’s area flood risk manager, said rivers had continued to rise with rainfall overnight on Wednesday and Thursday.

He said: “What we are going to see if we get this forecast is another difficult situation with the tributaries potentially going up to flood warning level.

“The River Thames is continuing to slowly rise and it may be that we issue a flood warning for the River Thames at Buscot.”

Although he said the Thames was an “increasing area of concern” he said the Thames through Oxford was unlikely to rise from its current alert level.

He said the agency was also “keeping an eye on” the River Thame, River Ock at Abingdon and River Evenlode and Windrush in West Oxfordshire.

He added: “We could see warning on those areas because a lot of those rivers are already on flood alert. It would not take a great deal to push them up to warning level. I do not think we know if the worst is to come but it would be foolish to say we have had the worst of it.”

But he said flood protection schemes across Oxfordshire had made a “significant difference” to the impact of rainfall on properties.

He said: “We could have potentially seen dozens of properties flooding across the county this week if the schemes were not in place.”

The Environment Agency completed £2.5m of measures in Oxford in May 2011 to protect 800 properties following the floods of 2007.

Work included channel maintenance, purchasing demountable defences for Hinksey Park and Osney Island and installing three large culverts on the Hinksey Drain at Redbridge in Oxford.

A £17m scheme to protect more than 500 properties in Banbury was completed in October and stopped the town centre flooding on Thursday.

The agency has also removed trees from the River Stert in Abingdon and installed protection measures to 10 homes in Witney.

Specific schemes have also been installed in Eynsham, Kidlington, Ascott-under-Wychwood, Milton-under-Wychwood and Chalgrove, and the Environment Agency has worked with parish and town councils at risk of flooding throughout Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire County Council was last night preparing to send gritters out with temperatures expected to fall below freezing.

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