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After the snowfall come the flood warnings as winter weather bites

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: November 06, 2012

  • A firefighter monitors floods in Croscombe, near Shepton Mallet

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Parts of the West were still on flood alert last night after a day of clearing up flooded homes and businesses, and clearing out blocked ditches and drains.

Despite a dry day yesterday, the effects were still being felt from Sunday’s freak weather, which saw a couple of inches of snow in Somerset, Dorset and parts of Wiltshire, and an inch or more of rain in just a couple of hours lead to flash flooding in parts of South Gloucestershire and northern Wiltshire.

And last night, the Environment Agency warned that the wet summer and saturated ground meant that the West was going to be just a few days from experiencing flood problems for much of the winter to come.

Flood warnings and alerts were still in place for many rivers in the West, from the Bristol Avon in north Wiltshire down to the Lower Frome river in Wareham, Dorset.

Rush hour yesterday morning – coupled with the first day back at school after the half-term holidays – was a slow crawl in much of Wiltshire, as flooded roads in the north of the county continued to cause problems.

The main road between Chippenham and Lyneham was blocked by a tributary to the River Avon bursting its banks in Sutton Benger, and the A429 between Chippenham and Malmesbury was also affected, both at the Kingway bridge and in Corston.

The Bristol Road out of Malmesbury was also blocked to most vehicles due to flooding, and the town’s football club, Malmesbury Victoria, recruited volunteers to shore up its buildings against the River Avon, which burst its banks around the town on Sunday night and yesterday morning.

At Corston, staff at the Radnor Arms pub began a clear-up operation after five inches of floodwater inundated the inn, while fire crews and highway engineers toured the area pulling cars from flood water and unblocking verges and drains to ease the dispersal of water.

Flood warnings built up over the day in Somerset and Dorset, where the snow of Sunday morning melted as quickly as it arrived, causing problems on many roads.

The Environment Agency yesterday stepped up a national flood awareness campaign as flood risks continued.

One in six properties are at risk of flooding in England and Wales but the latest Environment Agency figures reveal only 45 per cent of people in a flood-risk area are aware of the dangers.

The agency has released a flooding flash mob video online to increase awareness and encourage people to sign up to receive Environment Agency flood warnings by email, text or a message to a landline or mobile phone.

This summer over 100,000 households were warned of potential flooding through the free messaging service.

Pete Fox, head of strategy and investment at the Environment Agency, said: “By doing something a bit different, we want to reach a new audience and make them aware of the risk flooding poses. With one in six homes at risk of flooding, the most important step people can take in protecting themselves from the worst impacts is to find out if they are at risk, and sign up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warnings service.”

Last week, the Environment Agency and Met Office warned that this summer’s unusually wet weather means there is a higher risk of flooding this winter.

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