ENVIRONMENT LEAD STORY Local

“We can’t take on another disaster like 2007”: How safe is Gloucestershire from flooding?

July 20 2007 will always be an unforgettable day for many in Gloucestershire. Remembered as one of the county’s worst flooding disasters in recent history, the county watched the rain fall as it took their homes, electricity, water and three men’s lives.

More than two months worth of rain fell in one day, causing the Mythe Water Treatment Works to be inundated with polluted water from the River Severn. This left 350,000 people without clean water for 18 days.

So what’s changed? Severn Trent, who provide water to homes in the South West, assured Gloucestershire residents that flooding would never cause contaminated water again. This promise came after the water company built a 3.5 metres (11ft) high wall around the the Mythe Water Treatment Works in 2007, which aims to provide a protection from flood waves.

A Severn Trent Water spokesman at the time said: “The work to further protect our water treatment works at Mythe is now complete and we’ve invested half a million pounds to reinforce the existing wall around the site.

“This creates an even stronger flood barrier and is one of many improvements we’ve made to protect the site from flooding in the future.”

Mythe WTW UV treatment plant – Courtesy of CiM6

Up to 500 businesses were destroyed by the severe flooding, causing many to close down due to losing out on income and paying for damages. The Longford Inn on Tewkesbury Road in Gloucester was practically under water when the 78mm fell on Gloucestershire and is famously known as one of the worst affected locations.

Now a Beefeater, the venue has changed a lot over the years, but the memories from the floods remain stagnant. Mary from Gloucester, the new site manager, said: “We feel safer now the protections were put in place. If it was so bad then we wouldn’t work here! Just the other day we had heavy rainfall and nothing terrible happened, it’s obviously being dealt with in a better way than it used to be and I think those precautions they put in place are working, definitely.

“I think the (2007) floods were a one off, I really hope nothing like that happens again anyway. If it did? God knows, I don’t think we can take on another disaster like that here. I’m hopeful it won’t happen though and nothing that bad has happened since. Yeah, floods come and go around here but nothing as bad as that.”

Footage of flooded Gloucestershire locations (20th July 2007)

It was also reported that 3,966 houses had been flooded with 825 households having to evacuate their homes. This affected 1,950 people, many who are stuck with these memories to this day. 75-year-old Rosemary Sturt from Churchdown lived in Prestbury at the time, she remembers helping her friends in Tewkesbury who had to leave their flooded homes. She said: “We were all affected in different ways but it was the worse for homes in Tewkesbury who had to move out of their homes.

“We went to try and clean them before they could move back in and there was so much mud left from the dirty water, it was all in the cupboards and drawers and you couldn’t even see out of the windows, it stained the whole downstairs of the house. It was so awful. I just hope nothing like this happens again as it is the last thing we need. People still live in the same houses and it would be horrible for them, so I hope enough has been done to prevent it.”

Severn Trent assure enough work has been done and Tewkesbury Borough Council have recently revealed a potential £28million plan to stop Tewkesbury from flooding badly in the future. This comes after flood campaigners have been urging the Tewkesbury Environment Agency to prevent further flooding to protect people’s homes and businesses.

The ambitious plans include earth barriers and concrete walls being built in order to protect buildings from being flooded again. Tewkesbury town councillor Karen Brennan said: “The earth embankments would generally be between 2-2.5m high, for example tying into the high ground along the back of the Prior’s Park garages and allotments, where the length would be approximately 625 metres.”

Tewkesbury residents, as well as others in Gloucestershire, can only hope these plans go ahead, as well as possibly more. If these plans go ahead or not, there are still two guarantees: floods will be coming again, especially with heavier rainfall expected, and the people of Gloucestershire never want to see a flood like 2007 again.

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