Villagers rallying round to save homes from flooding
FAMILIES in Chalford were among those left awash as flash flooding hit homes and business in the Five Valleys and Severn Vale.
Householders in the village's low-lying High Street are mopping up after their homes were inundated by an engorged River Frome in the aftermath of torrential rain.
Today, the Environment Agency says water levels are receding and by tomorrow the risk of flooding will be minimal, although the ground would remain saturated and rivers high.
The Frome in Chalford was at its highest as half a dozen homes were flooded and the High Street was shut to traffic on Sunday and Monday.
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Kath LeWorthy, who lives near Chalford Valley Playing Field, said the water level around her home was the highest she had seen in 40 years.
Pumps and baling kept the flood on her ground floor to just an inch or so.
Ms LeWorthy, who carried all her possessions to safety upstairs, said: "I've been flooded several times but it's clear, sparkling water. You could drink it."
Environment Agency records taken on Monday morning showed the river level in Chalford at 0.72m compared with the previous record of 0.67m in January 2008.
Tenant Caroline Hough started renting owner Anna Thompson's house beside the normally picturesque Frome only a few months ago after her husband Steven's job brought them and their small children from Australia.
"We knew the flood was coming so we got as much upstairs as we could," said Mrs Hough. "The fire brigade did everything they could."
Neighbour Jackie Hunt held her dog Oscar in her arms to stop him being swept away by the force of the water rushing through her garden.
Some 500 sandbags and five pumps saved her and husband Malcolm's house from flooding.
Mrs Hunt said: "The one thing that is important is how everyone was so good helping one another.
"It brought the neighbours together. We have had bacon and egg buns and soup. One girl made a lot of cookies."
Nearby Chalford resident Jo Murdock agreed. "Everyone was helping with all the sandbags."
The swollen Frome then swirled down to Stonehouse where the majority of properties stayed dry thanks to new flood defences.
Only one home in Downton Road was swamped, said Tim Davies from action group Bridgend Against River Frome Flooding.
He said: "We did all right. I am happy because I think we stood a chance."
Walls and drainage work completed in liaison with the Environment Agency provided individual property protection and Mr Davies said: "Albion Terrace stayed awake all night, sweeping and pumping. The whole place was lit up throughout the night. But the systems have been effective."
As more heavy rain fell on to already saturated ground main roads including the A38 in Moreton Valence and the A419 Ebley Bypass turned into lakes and were closed by police.
Stroud District Council distributed more than 2,000 sandbags to help protect homes and businesses.
Its chief executive David Hagg said there had been flooding across the district but mainly in Brimscombe, Thrupp and Chalford and the areas along the rivers Frome and Cam.
"Council officers, the emergency agencies, parish councils and our major contractors Veolia and Lovells worked hard over the weekend to keep the district safe," he said.
"I'd like to thank them for all of their hard work so far and would reiterate to our communities that we are still on hand to help."
Police warned drivers with 4X4s not to put themselves in danger by believing their vehicles were aquatic.
And Stroud and District Citizens Advice Bureau said it had help at hand for those affected badly by flooding.
"We have advisers who should be able to help," said bureau manager Nick Lee.
Landords should help tenants and Mr Lee said families whose homes had been so badly damaged by flooding that they could not live in them might be entitled to help from the district council.
"They may be eligible for a crisis loan or grant from JobCentreplus," he added. Contact the CAB on 08444 111 444.