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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
Anxiety and anger in flood-hit Oxford
By Niki Cardwell
Community affairs reporter, BBC News, Oxford

As more homes are evacuated in Oxford because of flooding other residents are staying put in their homes but many are confused by what they say are mixed messages about the seriousness of the situation.

Residents wade through water in Botley
Botley is one of the worst-hit areas and residents have been moved out
"I heard bang, bang, bang. I thought they were coming through my front door."

Jean Dickson, now retired, has lived in Mill Street in Oxford for most of her life. But she says she has never seen anything quite like the deluge of water which has taken over large parts of the west of the city in the past few days.

She says the fire brigade woke her at one o'clock this morning to warn her about the flood waters.

"I was very scared. I thought the water was coming imminently."

A few streets away many of her neighbours were already under water. The fire brigade has been shifting hundreds more sandbags to shore up the terraced houses that fill the streets of the Botley district.

Community spirit

Simon Elgar lives on East Street which faces the Thames.

He decided to stay put rather than move his wife and two young children to Oxford United's football stadium with the rest of the evacuees.

Simon Elgar
Simon Elgar is staying put no matter what

But despite the recent flooding he has no intention of moving away.

"It's a lovely place, with a nice community spirit. It wouldn't take much to protect us.

"Obviously no-one expected this, but something could be done to stop it happening again."

While basking in the sunshine of Tuesday, many might have found it easy to believe that the crisis had passed.

Keith Wilson lives on a river boat moored up at Abingdon when the heavy rain was first forecast.

"I'm tied to the railings now so the rising water doesn't affect me much at the moment. I'll be in real trouble if it rises above them, but there again so will most of England."

Peak not reached?

He says despite yesterday's predictions about the peak waters having passed, the boating community isn't so sure.

"Talk to the lockkeepers. They watch the waters all day, every day.

"They told me the peak won't arrive for a couple of days yet because there's so much more to drain down."

Many people in Botley are angry about the conflicting information they keep hearing about the flood waters.

"No-one knows what they're talking about," says Simon Elgar.

"How can they say it's alright when there's so much water upstream?"

As the waters continue to rise, most residents here are trying to stop things getting much worse in their houses.

"I've got water coming up through the drains and backing up into my home," says one man as he rushes past with a sandbag destined for his toilet.

"I can live with the water but I don't want sewage all over the place."




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