Rivers reached second highest levels in district

The River Avon reached its second highest level on record in Warwick last week when flooding and rising waters caused chaos in the district.

Friday, 18th March 2016, 8:00 am
MHLC Flooding - Jephson Gardens - Dan Mitton

The River Leam at Leamington also came close to its peak of 3.25 metres during the three days of flooding when main roads and parks were left closed because of water levels.

In Warwick, the river was recorded by the Environment Agency as being at its highest levels since devastating flooding almost 20 years ago.

A report showed the river reached 3.31 metres on Thursday March 10, only just short of the 3.95 metres recorded at the same location in 1998.

Flooding - Peter Jackson - Avon at St.Nicholas Park, Warwick

The river can flood once water exceeds 1.46 metres, and records show the water stayed far above this until the early hours of Sunday.

The Leam burst its banks after around an inch of rain fell overnight on Tuesday, flooding parts of Jephson Gardens and the Pump Room Gardens. Jephson Gardens was closed off for two days on safety grounds.

Described as “the heaviest rainfall in Warwickshire in a century”, the rising water levels led to significant problems across the county.

Roads and schools were closed and fire crews were called to rescue 22 people stranded, or who had become “marooned” in their cars.

Flooding - Peter Jackson - Avon at St.Nicholas Park, Warwick

Drivers in Kenilworth had to be rescued as the ford reached impassible levels, and parts of the A46 were closed off because of standing surface water on the road.

Despite rain easing off through the week, warnings were put out on Thursday that Warwick’s Avon would reach its peak between 10pm that night and 2am the next day.

An Environment Agency spokesperson explained that rainfall takes time to feed into rivers and make its way downstream - meaning problems can continue, and rivers rise, days after the rainfall.

A statement from Warwickshire County Council said: “The flooding on roads is not down to drainage but to farmland runoff - water from fields and debris disturbed by the water.”

The fire and rescue service took more than 50 flood-related calls for help last Wednesday when over 18,000 people visited its Facebook page for advice and to check warnings.

Warwickshire Police said the number of emergency calls from midnight to 12.30pm increased by 223 per cent as a result of the weather conditions.

Over Wednesday and Thursday, county highways teams handed out and placed over 300 sand bags to help prevent highway flooding and prevent any resulting flood issues for adjacent properties.

A highways spokesperson said: “Highways crews closed off over 50 roads in flood-affected areas of the county, working through the day and night on both days to ensure that Warwickshire’s highway network remained safe and managed.”

Clean-up operations began this week with work to remove sandbags and return damaged areas to normality .

Warwickshire council officers said they would be working with the Environment Agency and communities to help people “get back to normal as quickly as possible”.