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More rain and flooding will be unstoppable, warns Environment Agency boss
3:18pm Saturday 15th February 2014 in News
“If we get much more water we’re going to see homes flooded and we might not be able to stop it.”
Those are the worrying words of Environment Agency officer Mike O’Neill as he leads the battle against the flood waters in Winchester.
“The levels now are higher than in 2000, when we had the last major floods, but with the new measures we’ve put in place, we’re hoping the measures we’ve put in will be sufficient, but we’re in unknown territory.”
Extra pumps have been placed at Durngate, Park Avenue, and Water Lane.
Water levels at North Walls police station remain perilously high and they confirmed an evacuation contingency plan is in place.
Surrounding villages are also battening down the hatches.
Residents in Sutton Scotney are describing “flash floods” and soldiers have been stacking sandbags after the Post Office, the Coach and Horses pub, and several cottages flooded.
Jo Phillips, of Witts Cottage, said: “It came up to my ankle. It was a bit scary and you just do not know how fast it was going to keep coming up.”
City council officer Andrew Palmer has been assigned to support the village and liaise with control in Winchester.
“I was out here in the morning and the water just came up in no time. It was just ‘whoosh!’ Staggering, really,” he said.
In Kings Worthy The King Charles pub has lost almost £5,000 worth of trade due to the closures of Springvale Road and Lovedon Lane.
In Hursley residents are having to cope with floods and raw sewage.
Jonathan Greatrix, 46, who works in the village, said: “There is raw sewage flowing down the street. The Environment Agency has given us a pump but it’s a week too late. We knew this was going to happen ten days ago but it’s not until Winchester is flooded that they’ve acted. It’s not rocket science.”
In a letter to residents, Southern Water said: “The temporary pump we have in place is pumping wastewater – heavily diluted by groundwater – through a small screening and filtration system before releasing it to a nearby surface water drain.
“As the wastewater company, we are not responsible for investigating and solving groundwater, river flooding or surface water problems.
However, we must ensure our customers can continue to use their wastewater services and this is our priority.”
High winds are adding to the problems, overturning a lorry on Morestead Road yesterday just before 5pm.
A spokesman from Winchester City Council said they’ve so far delivered 15,000 sandbags across the city and the control remains in operation 24 hours a day.