Gloucestershire flooding: How far have we come since 2007 floods?
IT wasn't nearly as bad as the disaster of 2007 but last month's flooding was a big reminder of the havoc that heavy rainfall can cause in Gloucestershire.
Five years ago, the summer deluge led to four deaths and about 4,500 homes being flooded.
This time, things were on a far smaller scale but for those living in the flooding hotspots, such as the Tewkesbury area, it meant more misery.
Those hit by rivers bursting their banks or drainage systems not coping included houses at Tirley, caravans at Forthampton and pubs in both Tewkesbury town and Haw Bridge.
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Zog Ziegler, whose Tirley home flooded for the second time in five years, said: "It wasn't up to the levels of 2007. We had about a foot of water in last month, while it was nearly 5ft five years ago."
Flood defences introduced after 2007 helped keep the number of flooded properties down. The Environment Agency put the figure at 50, while the county council said it was 80.
Both said they believed the number would have topped 500 had various schemes implemented by local authorities and the agency not been completed. And a £5.5 million wall built around Tewkesbury's Mythe Water Treatment Works prevented floodwater getting into the site, as it did in 2007 – leading to a loss of tap water supply for 350,000 people in Gloucestershire for 17 days. Councillor Will Windsor Clive, the county council's cabinet member for communities, said: "Gloucestershire's seven district councils worked together to do our best to protect people from the rising flood waters and to minimise the disruption it caused.
"Although any property flooding is traumatic for residents, it is reassuring that our investment in flood alleviation protected so many more properties from flooding."
Gloucestershire County Council has committed a further £1m for new flood alleviation projects and the six district councils are matching this with another £1.25m for new schemes.
Vernon Smith, a flood victim in 2007 and now a town, borough and county councillor in Tewkesbury, said: "I'm really relieved that the county council did get so much done to protect properties.
"But we must do more. It was close this time.
"There were circumstances in our favour, such as it wasn't a tidal period.
"We must not rest on our laurels at all." He said he planned to lobby the Environment Agency to dredge all rivers and brooks in flood-risk areas.
Dave Witts, of the Tewkesbury-based Severn and Avon Combined Valley Flood Group, said: "The flooding in 2007 and last month's were different. This time, though the Avon and Severn burst their banks, a lot of the flooding was away from the main floodplain.
"That was because saturated ground and water run-off caused flash flooding. A number of people have told Councillor Smith and I that the ditch digging that we've persuaded the authorities to do has worked."
Last month's flooding re-ignited the debate over whether new development should be allowed anywhere near the floodplain. Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson lobbied ministers in the House of Commons, urging them not to pressurise authorities such as Tewkesbury Borough Council into allowing housing to be built in, or next to, flood-risk areas.
The worst-affected areas in last month’s flooding were: Haw Bridge, Tirley, Apperley, Longford, Twigworth, Sandhurst, Maisemore and Stroud Valley.
Its gauge on the River Severn at Mythe, Tewkesbury, showed the water peaked at 4.54m on November 26, as opposed to a peak of 5.5m on July 22 2007.
Flood defence schemes protected hundreds of homes across the county, including Cox’s Meadow in Cheltenham, Horsbere Brook in Longlevens and Deerhurst, near Tewkesbury.
Gloucestershire’s county and district councils responded to more than 600 calls.
More than 8,000 sandbags were distributed and 500 homes were visited and offered support by the council teams.
County highways teams attended 200 emergency incidents – pumping water from overflowing drains, tending to dangerous trees, clearing debris from culverts and managing road closures.
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service attended 350 calls.
HELP AND ADVICE:
Gloucestershire County Council is the lead local flood authority and has advice on its website at Gloucestershire County Council flood advice
People can sign up to The Environment Agency’s free flood warnings service or ring its Floodline on 0845 988 1188 for advice about flooding
Further Information about flood warnings is also on the agency’s website, which can be found on The Environment Agency website