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The floods have arrived

(131 Posts)
FlicketyB Fri 07-Feb-14 11:45:42

I have put up a couple of posts on other threads, but as it is a developing situation, I thought I would start a separate thread.

When we moved here 20 years ago the village had no reputation for flooding. There had been floods in 1895 and 1947, but these had seen exceptional floods countrywide. Then in 2007 Wales, Gloucestershire and the northern Home counties found themselves caught in, what we were later told was, the 1,000 rain event, nothing to do with global warming. The village was flooded, including about 40 houses. It recovered and we all considered it was a one off and we would need to wait another 50 years for the next flood.

Its 2014. There has over the last two or three months been excessive rain. When I woke this morning (I am an early riser) I opened the curtains and my eye was caught by the street lights which seemed to be glimmering and reflecting off the road surface. I looked again and realised it was water. I nipped out to the front gate in my dressing gown and the water stretched as far up the road as I could see.

Once I was dressed and it was light I went out with my camera. There are four streets in the village running laterally for up to a mile from the main road. They are all flooded, from a few inches to well over a foot. Thankfully most of the roads lie below the level of the houses but 5 houses already have water coming in. Others are managing to hold it off with sandbags at garden gates. Although it has not rained since 6.00am the water has not gone down and with more rain forecast for the weekend we expect it to rise further. We are meant to be above any flood level. It would have to rise nearly 2 foot to reach us, but one of our neighbours who was flooded in 2007 in a different house has moved all papers and books off the bottom shelf of her bookcases.

The one thing the water has done is activate a real camaraderie between people in the village. The school is shut and parents and children and the rest of the village are all out and about chatting to each other.

grannyactivist Fri 07-Feb-14 12:14:35

Oh dear Flickety with more rain forecast for today and tomorrow are you taking similar precautions to your neighbour? I'm in Devon and it's a beautiful day here at the moment, but we're expecting rain and gale force winds later. Our river is usually very shallow and usually no houses in the immediate area flood, but those on the seafront have taken a real battering from tidal surges.

Brendawymms Fri 07-Feb-14 12:16:05

Keep safe and don't put yourself at risk. I am sure at GN's will be thinking of you. flowers

POGS Fri 07-Feb-14 12:31:05

I feel so sorry for EVERYBODY suffering now and in the past with flooding.

Thinking of you Flickety. flowers

mollie Fri 07-Feb-14 12:34:09

I went to a funeral on the Bucks/Oxon border yesterday and so many roads were flooded that it was a bit of a nightmare getting there. I've never seen roads like this before. Anybody affected by this situation has my sympathy!

Galen Fri 07-Feb-14 12:55:37

Where are you Flick?
I'm in N Somerset but I'm right on top of the hill looking over the Bristol Channel.
I think I'm above even a tsunami event.( I gather there was one nearby a couple of hundred years ago) I'm very glad we did buy high up. The high street in the village gets flooded regularly as does the bottom road as the rain runs off the elevated fields.

Bellasnana Fri 07-Feb-14 13:08:25

Have been watching the news and am appalled at what I've seen. Feel so sorry for all who are living through such difficult times sad

ffinnochio Fri 07-Feb-14 13:18:39

I do hope you managed to stay dry Flickety.

I lived near the moors in Somerset for 10 years, and was very used to seeing the floods, but this year is quite extraordinary. Dredging was regularly done and the rhynes cleared most years by the farmers. It is an area that needs to be consistently managed, but unfortunately that seems to have been sorely lacking in recent years.

Blaming doesn't help anything - but action can. Higher local taxes? If local financial resources are already stretched to the limit, what then.

No one has a crystal ball to predict these dreadful and upsetting situations, but a conscious and consistent application to prevent future flooding of this nature will now, no doubt, be forthcoming.

durhamjen Fri 07-Feb-14 13:32:43

Why have the farmers stopped dredging? After all, it's their fields that get flooded.

kittylester Fri 07-Feb-14 14:58:37

If we are talking about dredging rivers jen then it is not the responsibility of the farmers. As I understand it, it is the responsibility of the who ever is responsible for the rivers [can't remember what they are called!]

mollie Fri 07-Feb-14 15:12:18

Environment Agency? National Waterways (or are they canals?)?

margaretm74 Fri 07-Feb-14 15:22:53

It was the Great Tsunami of 1607 up the Bristol Channel, Galen, have seen a programme on it.

The responsibility for dredging passed to the Environment Agency from local Boards 18 years ago I believe - since then it has been neglected. DN who lives in Somerset tells me that the local farmers have dredged the ditches alongside the roads, so, although their village has been cut off for a couple of days at a time, it has drained away reasonably quickly. She also said that the River Parrett used to be about 15 feet deep and is now only 2-3 feet deep. Dredging and using the silt on the land would have built up the land as well. It is now full of foul waste so what will happen to it?

Keep safe everyone

annodomini Fri 07-Feb-14 15:23:30

Even a few weeks ago, when I travelled north from Oxford by train, I was appalled at the extent to which so many low-lying fields were under water. And it must be far worse by now. Here in Cheshire, there is water lying on fields, but, by comparison, we are in a fortunate part of England.

Galen Fri 07-Feb-14 15:33:39


A bit before my time! No wonder I couldn't remember it!

Seriously, it must be dreadful for all those people who stand to lose their homes and livelihoods.
They must be wondering whether to ditch it all in, cut their losses and run or tough it out?

merlotgran Fri 07-Feb-14 15:36:22

The National Rivers Authority are responsible for dredging the main rivers but Somerset will probably have a body similar to the Internal Drainage Board which is responsible for draining the fens here in Cambridgeshire. Many farmers maintain their own drains but if there is nowhere for the water to drain then the land floods.

The plight of the Somerset farmers is heartbreaking.

Mamie Fri 07-Feb-14 15:39:51

Hope you are OK Flickety.
We have only just (4.30pm) got electricity back after losing it at 4am when a huge pole fell over in a field. EDF were on the case by 9am but I gather there has been quite a bit of damage; the winds were very high last night.

margaretm74 Fri 07-Feb-14 15:45:09

I think the EA took over from the Drainage Board some years ago now, merlotgran, that is what a lot of the "discussion" is about, ie anger.

Someone suggested planting loads of trees, and I think we need to, but what is happening to the trees with their roots submerged for so long? Will they be more susceptible to fungal infections, rot, die away?

merlotgran Fri 07-Feb-14 15:52:36

The EA took over from the National Rivers Authority not the Drainage Boards I think.

margaretm74 Fri 07-Feb-14 16:15:52

Probably, could not remember exactly which body it was.

JessM Fri 07-Feb-14 16:29:33

Yes the NRA existed for a while after water privatisation but merged with EA quite a while now.

FlicketyB Fri 07-Feb-14 17:11:53

End of the first day. The water has gone down on the main road, although it is still has water across the road in places, but for most of us there has been little change. Although the water may have receded an inch or two it is still flowing down the road like a river in spate suggesting that where ever it is coming from there is plenty there - and with more rain to come.

The Council turned up with sand and sand bags and those houses most at risk have been piling them up. Although the main road is passable with care, many visits roads are closed, officially or unofficially, with residents manning entry points to limit use by residents only. The problem is the bow wave from cars going through too fast. Several of the houses with water in them, expecting it imminently or keeping it out with sandbags have little or no front gardens and the bow wave of a lorry or car going too fast for the conditions washes water into houses or sends it lapping up sand bags.

Our local village maintenance team have also been out rodding all the culverts for the many small streams that run through the village, but all the streams have been very well maintained, with a team expecting them almost weekly this winter to remove leaves and obstructions. There is simply too much water, more than the streams can carry.

We carefully negotiated ourselves out this afternoon to go to Oxford. Our journey was necessary but the route was circuitous as several of the cross country routes we use were also flooded. Everywhere we went the land was under water. Vast stretches of water spread as far as the eye could see. There is nowhere for all this water to go. I would say the Vale of White Horse, Vale of Oxford and Otmoor have as much land flooded as the Somerset levels, but because our terrain is lumpier, to use the technical phrase, even though there are huge stretches of water there are always hills and raised areas out of the water.

The Vale of White Horse, like the Somerset levels was once a large marshy area and many of the villages have names with the Saxon place name element 'ey' at the end, meaning island. We have Hanney, Charney, Goosey, Hinksey, the Somerset levels have Muchelney, Thorney, Athelney.

margaretm74 Fri 07-Feb-14 17:16:56

The local Drainage Boards were responsible for the ditches or rhynes and presumably the NRA for the rivers, working together.

Ditches are not little tiny ditches as one would see by the side of a country road, they are fast flowing, straight and fairly wide. eg King's Sedgemoor Drain which you pass over on the M5.

This is what happens when a metropolitan elite start to meddle in countryside affairs.

margaretm74 Fri 07-Feb-14 17:20:16

DN said that houses near her would have been OK but for the inconsiderate drivers going through flood water too fast and sending it up and over the sandbags.

Stay safe

JessM Fri 07-Feb-14 17:57:32

Fingers crossed for you flicketyb - I hope you have managed to rearrange your house in case it happens. Going to be a windy weekend rather than very wet but lots of showers.

Iam64 Fri 07-Feb-14 18:29:49

flowers flicketyb - I do hope you and your home stay safe. It's good to know community spirit is around you.
Not wanting to start a rant, but I did hear local farmers and politicians claiming that dredging had been abandoned by the EA, in favour of a focus on wild life. I'm not criticising a focus on wildlife at all. The spokesman from the EA claimed that dredging would not help the situation. I don't know enough about it to disagree with him, but the local people/politicians certainly did.
What truly dreadful, and unusual weather we're having.