Battling floods in Sandhurst and Alney Island in Gloucester
Spending £27,000 on flood defences appears to be paying off for a family bearing the brunt of the county's floods.
After floodwater washed in to their Sandhurst Lane, Gloucester home in 2007, the Hailes family said "never again" and installed a barrier around and underneath their home.
As the water from the burst banks of the River Severn surged down the lane towards their property, Tina Hailes and husband Graham watched it wash around but crucially, not through their family's home.
"It was horrendous being flooded," said Graham of the 2007 floods. "This is mum and dad's house and we said never again."
A 4ft-high water repelling barrier was rendered on to the outside walls of the house, and it extends 1ft underground.
Three pumps inside the barrier shift water back out over the outer wall, while hefty stainless steel doors complete the watertight barrier.
"We didn't want it to happen again, and insurance would have been much harder to get, so we spent the money," said Mrs Hailes.
"It seemed like a lot at the time but it's doing it's job now."
This afternoon floodwater appeared to continue rising, as a strong current rushed north to south under the A40 Northern Bypass.
"When the bypass was built in the 70s, they made a mistake," said Sandhurst Lane resident Bob Newby, who with son Evan floated parcels in plastic boxes to their waiting car for a trip to the post office.
"The only place for water to get through at this end is Sandhurst Lane. There are no culverts - it would have cost a relatively small amount then but the work would cost a lot more now."
Retired coal merchant John Orpin turned back because he feared he'd be swept off his feet in around 4ft of water.
"I went in but I was on my own, and could feel it taking me away, so I came back", said Mr Orpin, who was trying to reach his horses on 20 acres of land his father raised after the 1947 floods.
Lee Smith, who lives in the caravan site on Sandhurst Lane, invested in a set of waders.
"They're £40 but you have to have them," he said. "It's been going up today and we have to be able to get out."
The Environment Agency is pumping out water from Alney Island, where residents have been watching river levels rise to within inches of their doorsteps.
This afternoon Gloucestershire County Council said that although the worst of the wet weather has passed, the county's rescue teams have far from finished protecting residents who have been hit hardest by the floods.
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service crews who have worked tirelessly to assist vulnerable people affected by flooding in the past week are back out in those same communities, making sure families are safe and secure.
Those villages left isolated by recent rainfall include Deerhurst, Apperley, Tirley, Corse Lawn, Ashleworth, Sandhurst and Maisemore and all day today crews will be patrolling these areas on foot and in boats to make sure that residents are safe and able to return to some kind of normality.
Firefighters are offering advice to homeowners and carrying out surveys of properties if they are needed.
The teams will also be ready to respond to animal emergencies – with the wellbeing of county livestock an important concern.
Gloucestershire's Chief Fire Officer Jon Hall said: "We may be past the worst of the past week's bad weather, but, for the communities affected, the impact has been huge and it won't be leaving them soon.
"We are spending today visiting communities that have been affected and making sure they have everything they need. We will be talking to residents, informing them of any further issues and giving assistance wherever it is needed.
"Our crews are also well-placed to react to any incidents involving animals that have become trapped or are in need of assistance. We will be keeping an eye out and responding when necessary."
The teams have already attended incidents this morning in Sandhurst, at which a two-year-old was rescued from an isolated home, and Forthampton, at which a man was rescued from a caravan.
Since the wet weather started last week, the fire and rescue service has taken more than 300 calls, leading to everything from rescues from isolated homes to advice being given.
At its peak, the bad weather required the support of neighbouring fire services from the West Midlands, Hampshire and Staffordshire – giving the county service the opportunity to respond fully to incidents across Gloucestershire.
Alongside the service's rescue boats which have been in operation since the floods arrived, both hovercraft were launched yesterday to access the more isolated communities affected. Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) volunteers have also been involved in the rescue effort.
Residents are being offered advice to keep them safe. The Service is working in partnership with other agencies including the Health Protection Agency which is keen to offer advice to residents.
Dr Mark Evans, South West (North) Health Protection Unit said: "It is important to keep you and your family safe when cleaning up your flooded home. The following points may be a helpful start, but remember, easy does it, the stress and strain associated with cleaning up after flooding can cause additional health problems. Try not to overdo it."
HPA has issued the following advice:
• Drying out – leave doors and windows open whenever possible and when safe, remembering that petrol or diesel generators should never be brought indoors. The fumes contain carbon monoxide, which can build up to poisonous levels without good ventilation.
• Keep children and pets away from the affected area until it has been dried out.
• Before you start, put on protective clothing (rubber boots/apron/gloves). It is also important to cover any open cuts with waterproof plasters.
• Cleaning – use detergent then a normal kitchen disinfectant to clean all kitchen utensils, plates, cutlery, chopping boards, etc. Use hot soapy water to clean all other hard surfaces, including walls, floors and furniture but be careful not to mix detergents as they could release hazardous fumes. Wash clothes and toys on a hot cycle (60o C or higher).
• Remember to wash hands thoroughly after each clean up session and always before eating and preparing food.
For more information, please visit: www.hpa.org.uk