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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 July 2007, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
River flooding starts to subside
Oxford flooded
Oxford's water levels have started to subside
Floodwater is no longer rising in Oxfordshire but three severe flood warnings remain in place, said the Environment Agency.

The warnings are at Oxford and Abingdon and the River Ock from Charney Bassett to Abingdon - due to the high levels in the River Thames.

In Wallingford and Henley levels are expected to remain steady for the next 48 hours, before falling slowly.

In total about 900 homes have been flooded in the county since Friday.

No electricity

About 150 homes in Oxford - mainly in the Osney and Botley areas - were flooded on Wednesday after Thames tributaries burst their banks, spilling on to the river's already water-logged flood plain.

A spokeswoman for Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the floods began to subside in the city at about 2000 BST on Wednesday and said it is hoped homes, which have not been hit by flooding, will now be safe.

But some 260 homes in the city are without electricity.

Southern Electric said they will not be able to begin work on fixing the supply until water levels have dropped.

Terry Stock, of Vale of White Horse District Council, said the next thing to tackle is the clear-up operation.

Henley Royal Regatta finishing stand was swept downstream. Photo by Julia Reichel/Stand seen on course - copyright: oepkes.com
A Henley regatta stand was swept away (Julia Reichel/oepkes.com)

He said: "We're going to be working with people for a long time because we've got somewhere between 500 and 1,000 houses flooded.

"Most of those people have had to move out and there will be flooded carpets and damaged goods and all sorts of clear-up operations that we will have to work with people to help them with."

He praised the community support during the floods.

"People have really pulled together," he said

"Neighbours have been watching out for each other. They've been out talking to each other and giving support and comfort."

About 125 residents, who had to leave their Oxford homes on Wednesday, remained overnight at a refuge centre set up at the Kassam stadium.

Oxford City Council said its community staff were at the stadium offering housing advice to some evacuees.

"The street wardens will patrol the areas of Botley Road, Grandpont and Donnington Bridge/New Hinksey overnight," said a spokeswoman.

"They will provide reassurance to residents."

In Abingdon, where the severe flood warning remains on the River Ock, 570 properties were flooded.

Two severe flood warning remains on the River Thames, between Oxford and Abingdon.

Flood evacuees
People had to leave their homes in the Osney area of Oxford

Dr Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, criticised the flood defences in the area, saying they were no longer able to cope.

"Despite this area being flooded in 2000 and 2003, both of which were described as a one-in-40-year event, it's clearly now a three-in-seven-year event," he said.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: "No flood defences failed, although river water and, or, surface water have overwhelmed many locations.

"The Kidlington Flood Defence Scheme (River Cherwell) has successfully protected many homes in north Oxford."

Local authorities in Oxfordshire have now joined forces with the British Red Cross to launch a national flood relief appeal fund to help those affected by the flooding in the county and in other parts of the country.

Two of the main roads into Oxford, Botley Road and Abingdon Road, remain closed.

In preparation for rivers bursting their banks, thousands of sandbags were delivered to households across the county.


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