Sunday, 3 August 2008

Flood One Year On

In the Oxford Times Andrew Ffrench writes:

FLOOD ONE YEAR ON: 'Never say never again'
Charlbury Road bridge when the floods hit last July
Charlbury Road bridge when the floods hit last July

Households in Oxfordshire have spent "millions of pounds" in a desperate effort to ensure a repeat of last year's devastating flooding never happens again.

In the past year, homeowners - some of whom are still out of their properties - have purchased a range of equipment designed to keep rising water at bay.

Some have even spent their insurance pay-outs flood-proofing their properties.

But exactly a year on from the chaos, the Government has warned those living in flood-prone areas to brace themselves for more frequent deluges in years to come.

Although significant progress has been made clearing up a large part of last July's mess, floods recovery minister John Healy last night said "never say never again".

He added: "The blunt truth is we are faced with the sort of rain we have never seen before in Britain in records going back 250 years. We can never say never again."

More than 2,100 homes across Oxfordshire flooded last summer.

Mary Dhonau, chief executive of the National Flood Forum, said: "Millions of pounds has been paid by residents in Oxfordshire on repair work and, as well as insurance cover, they have also invested their own money on protecting their homes."

By the end of June, the number of families still out of their homes in Oxfordshire had fallen to 158 - down from 231 in May and 291 in April.

Of those, 18 Oxford households are still in temporary accommodation.

In west Oxfordshire, 90 families are still out of their homes, while in the Vale of White Horse the figure is 50.

Nick Hills, 59, of Earl Street, West Oxford, said: "Since the flood I have been living with friends.

"I got about £25,000 in insurance and I spent that and several thousand more to make my home more flood-resilient.

"I got a stone floor fitted and I am waiting for a fully submersible recycled plastic kitchen to be installed."

Craig Woolhouse, of the Environment Agency, said: "We've had a huge challenge in responding to the floods, but we've been pressing ahead with the job we are here to do.

"Since last summer, we have spent £2m to complete river maintenance, de-silting work, channel maintenance and improving river structures in Oxfordshire.

"We acknowledge we haven't been able to do everything people wanted."

Earlier this month, a demonstration of demountable defences was held in West Oxford.

About 100 people attended the event, where a variety of flood defence products, including absorbant sandbags, water pumps, air brick covers and door and garage barriers were sold.

Tim Sadler, executive director of city services at Oxford City Council and chairman of the joint Oxfordshire group on flooding, said: "The reality of climate change means the risk of floods is ever-present and increasing."

Oxfordshire County Council has spent £600,000 on improving highway drainage at 30 locations in the county.

21st July 2008

No comments: