Residents well prepared for floods says council leader

By Gary Smee Thursday 29 November 2012 Updated: 06/12 13:27

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Buy photos » The Vale escaped a repeat of the July 2007 floods.

THE LEADER of Wychavon District Council said he believes residents were better prepared than ever to cope with the serious flooding which hit the area this week.

Dozens of roads were closed, schools shut, and worried home and business owners piled up sandbags outside their properties as the River Avon burst its banks in Evesham, Pershore and surrounding villages but with the floodwater receding over the last couple of days the Vale appears to have escaped relatively unscathed compared to the devastation of five years ago.

Around two dozen properties were flooded in the district compared to more than 1,500 when the area suffered its worst flooding in 60 years back in July 2007.

And while the River Avon peaked at 3.95 metres on Sunday - more than a metre and a half less than in 2007 - council leader Paul Middlebrough said he believed investment in flood defences and better warnings had helped save homes and businesses this time around.

"The impact of flooding is without a doubt devastating, but we’ve done a lot to help minimise the full force of the floods not just by distributing sandbags, we’ve spent £1.2 million on flood alleviation schemes since 1998.

"Early indications are telling us that the amount of properties affected has been dramatically reduced.

"Residents are without a doubt better prepared and flood alleviation schemes, certainly in Wychavon, have done their job saving hundreds of residents from the pain and destruction that can be caused. We’ve worked with landowners to get ditches cleared regularly, taking action where needed, supplied flood grants to residents who needed help with flood gates and other equipment and undertaken more innovative projects such as the Harvington Community Orchard which gets underway this week."

In Evesham, Waterside finally re-opened on Wednesday after being shut for a week and Pershore Bridge is now open. But some drivers ignored the closed signs at Pershore Bridge and drove through prompting anger from townsfolk. A group of residents were forced to help bail water out from the house at the bottom of Bridge Street on Sunday as the waves from passing vehicles threatened to flood it.

Pershore resident Trudy Burge slammed the stupidity of some motorists. "They were not only risking their own lives but also those of the emergency services and the home of a family with young children," she said.

As we went to print the River Avon had been downgraded from flood warning status to flood alert. But with little or no rain forecast for the next few days levels should return to normal by early next week.

For more information on the flooding situation visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk or www.wychavon.gov.uk. The latest flood warnings and information can be found at www.environment-agency.gov.uk.

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