Page last updated at 07:56 GMT, Friday, 22 June 2007 08:56 UK

Village flood defence put to test

Boscastle river (picture by Hedley Venning)
Boscastle's river was swollen by prolonged downpours

A Cornish village was saved from a repeat of serious flood damage when a £800,000 defence system was put to the test in torrential rain.

Some homes and businesses were damaged as water levels rose to 2ft in parts of Boscastle on Thursday.

Cornwall County Council admitted it was worsened by blocked drains which could not cope with the downpour.

But a culvert and a widened river bed, developed after the floods three years ago, helped stop more severe damage.

In 2004 an estimated 440 million gallons of flood water poured through the historic village, devastating many buildings and washing vehicles into the harbour and beyond.

The Environment Agency created the flood defence scheme in response.

Cars abandoned

During Thursday's rains, the village river held but water spilled onto the road and then ran into homes and businesses.

Cornwall Fire Brigade, which had crews pumping out water and helping residents, said the worst affected area was by the harbour.

Two homes and three shops were flooded and cars abandoned.

Search and rescue helicopters from RNAS Culdrose and RMB Chivenor were put on standby, but no injuries were reported.

Fire crews on the main street of Boscastle

Debbie Moore, of the Napoleon Inn in Boscastle, said: "Everyone saw it and it was heart stopping, we thought, here we go again. But we are over the worst of it."

Mark Rice, a spokesman for the Environment Agency South West region, said: "The flood defence schemes put in place since 2004 have worked, but we've had so much rainfall that it's surface water flooding."

The fact that all this water has descended again and the rivers have not burst their banks shows the work was definitely necessary
Dan Rogerson, MP

Boscastle Parish Councillor George Findlay said the worst appeared to be over and people were confident about the flood defence work.

Dan Rogerson, Cornwall Lib Dem MP, said: "The fact that all this water has descended again and the rivers have not burst their banks shows the work was definitely necessary and has had an effect."

Paul Allen, highways divisional surveyor for Cornwall County Council, said: "Drainage is an issue as well. The drains obviously couldn't cope with the intensity of the rainfall."

He said the drains were regularly cleaned as the village was identified as a high risk area, but could not say when they had last been done.

In 2004, military helicopters airlifted around 100 people to safety, 58 properties were flooded and four businesses were demolished.

Last year, North Cornwall District Council gave the go-ahead for a £4.5m flood defence project for the village which includes moving a bridge.

Boscastle on alert after flooding
22 Jun 07 |  Cornwall
Pumps approved for flood scheme
24 Oct 06 |  Cornwall
Boscastle gets 4.5m flood scheme
13 Sep 06 |  Cornwall
Boscastle's mixed recovery
18 Aug 05 |  Cornwall
Village 'unlikely' to flood again
16 Aug 05 |  Cornwall
Dozens rescued from flash floods
17 Aug 04 |  Cornwall


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