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Matt Cole will report on the flooding for us tonight and

Eddie Mair | 13:13 UK time, Monday, 23 July 2007

he sends this picture from the upper Thames at Henley.

1408 UPDATE: Matt's next stop, Wallingford:


  1. At 01:18 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Now the regatta can expand! Where's Boris?

  2. At 01:33 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Three cheers for the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire, interviewed by Martha on WATO about the 'unprecedented' situation, he said "It won't be unprecedented in future".

    It always seems as if 'unprecedented' is used as a shorthand for "we couldn't have foreseen in and it won't happen again in the forseeable future".

    At least someone has the sense to realise they could have done and it will.

  3. At 01:36 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Eep! I'm between where the floods were over the w/e, and where Matt's reporting from. Anyone out there able to loan me a submarine to get home tonight?

  4. At 01:46 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Eddie Mair wrote:

    Frances O (4), It's our internal system (lots of broadcasters use it) for storing running orders and accessing newswire services. We can also message colleagues across the BBC.

  5. At 01:47 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Frances O wrote:

    Eric, what's enps-ing? Is it like ISDN or ASDL?

  6. At 01:50 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Judith wrote:

    How did you know what Frances O was going to ask, Eddie? Any idea about Wednesday's Lotto numbers?

  7. At 01:55 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Eddie Mair wrote:

    That's odd. Five became four and I answered before you asked...this will probably appear before them both...blame the rain

  8. At 01:57 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Eddie Mair practices clairvoyancy yet again!

    AnneP: Did you hear the Mayor of Tewkesbury (I think it was he) on Today this morning? He said : The flooding is unique. We've had nothing like it since 1947. Or words to that effect.

    And it was used as a newheadline. Duh!

  9. At 02:04 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Ed Heal wrote:

    Why hasn't mystic meg won the lottery yet?

  10. At 02:16 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Henley isn't on the upper Thames, is it? It's further upstream from Oxford to the Head of the Thames than it is from Oxford downstream to Henley -- Henley is at least two-thirds of the way from the source. In fact I'd've said Henley is on the lower Thames, given that London River is tidal up past Kew.

    I'd agree that judging by the picture the Thames is upper than wot it usually is at Henley...

  11. At 02:24 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    He's getting closer! Is he going to Didcot or Abingdon? If he's going the way I think he would be, I can recommend the beer in the George & Dragon in Sutton Courtney (assuming it's not flooded out....)

  12. At 02:26 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Frances O wrote:

    Thanks, Eric. This just proves the almost telepathic communication between great minds.

    Electronic news p-something system?

    (they never had those newfangled things when I were in the biz. Ah, those quill pens in the stationery cupboard...)

  13. At 02:55 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Markham wrote:

    Have heard various complaints about the lack of flood defences, building on wrong land etc. All wanting more government money spent on the problem. Where do they think this money is coming from? The government has only so much money to go round. I've seen it suggested that water rates will rise. I expect the same people who are screaming for the government to spend more will be the first screaming when bills and taxes rise to pay for what are once in 60 years or longer events.

    I notice that the majority of flooded houses are relatively "new". Perhaps someone should look at the building regulations about drainage as a matter of urgency.

    There is a saying one swallow does not make a summer and the same should be said about a couple of "bad" ones weather wise. Besides the ability of the weather forecasters might have improved almost beyond measure but they still cannot say which small area is likely to be the recipient of a torrential downpour or which drainage system is likely to be incapable of dealing with the resultant water.

  14. At 03:07 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Charlie wrote:

    ...if this quote (from today's Guardian) is correct:

    "Hilary Benn, told GMTV today that the government had doubled investment for future flood defence over the last 10 years.

    "We've seen unprecedented levels of rainfall and flooding that people haven't seen for 60 years," he said.

    "The trouble is, when you get that amount of rain in that concentrated a time, even the best flood defences in the world are going to be overtopped, and that's what we've seen in many places.""

    ..there is an implication in the final paragraph that Britain has, in many places, "...the best flood defences in the world..."

    Apart from the Maidenhead Thames relief system and the Thames Barrier, where, I wonder are the other best flood defence sites..?

  15. At 03:17 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    So Wallingford is finally living up to its ancient name once again!


    A lovely place Wallingford, with at least one decent pub.

  16. At 04:11 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Wallingford before the deluge.

  17. At 04:17 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Frances O wrote:

    So... what measures are being taken to stop the 2012 Olympics site from flooding? Will existing defences be enough? *

    If not, what are they going to do and how much more will tax- and rate-payers have to fork out to do it?

    Should Boris Johnson be asked?
    Oh. I can answer that myself.

    * I doubt it

  18. At 04:34 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Charlie @14, I think there are pretty thorough flood defences on the Usk at Usk. Last time we had "unprecedented" rainfall (tee, as they say, hee) Usk High Street was flooded shoulder-deep at the end near the river; since then they've built the defences. Has anyone got any report on flooding in Usk?

    The anti-flooding defences in Totnes down on the flat bit by the river used to consist of wooden boards that fitted into grooves at the sides of the doors to the Wide World. When the rain and the River Dart conspired, the inhabitants fitted the boards, the water swelled the grotty old wood, and presto! the flooding was foiled until it got to the level of the window-cills. If someone unpleasant bought one of those houses, the vendor didn't bother to tell the buyer that the grotty old board under the stairs was the flood defences, and when the new owner fitted a smart new door the neighbours didn't say owt.

    Markham @13, Usk and Totnes are both fairly old settlements, and the houses near their rivers are mostly old too, so it isn't only new houses that cop it when water gets loose and goes rampaging about the place. I agree that the planning for too much water at a time in new housing estates doesn't seem to have been thought through very carefully, though.

    At Long Ashton, just outside Bristol, they've just built a lot of housing on what doesn't *look* like a flood plain, because there isn't a big river nearby; but that patch of ground has been flooded three years out of every five throughout the memory of the Oldest Inhabitant, and one could clearly see that it was waterlooged in winter from the Long Ashton Bypass, which is built on an embankment. I wonder how well those new houses are doing at the moment. :-( One of the objections raised by the locals about planning permission for those houses was that neither the sewerage nor the land-drainage in that part of the village was going to be adequate to cope.

  19. At 06:18 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Sue wrote:

    The Water Companies cannot get away scot free. Thames Water profits last year were £346m but it took 3 years of flooding and knee deep sewage in my mother's garden (near Chertsey and near the river) before they finally upgraded the local pumping station, which had not be modernised for 20 years despite all the new developments and increasing demands on the station over the years.

    Thankfully where I am in South East London, we have not flooded (when we have before). That is because Thames Water have spent the past year upgrading the old Victorian underground pipework. It has been very inconvenient with continual roadworks, but worth it, obviously.

    Bring the Water Companies to account!!!!

  20. At 08:58 PM on 23 Jul 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Ed Heal (9), How do you know she hasn't?

  21. At 11:40 PM on 23 Jul 2007, mittfh wrote:

    There's a joke going around work that Upton-on-Severn should be renamed Upton-under-Severn because it gets flooded so much...

    Speaking to part of the EA skeleton crew in Bewdley (where whilst PM was airing the water was still a few inches below the quay), all the barriers for the Severn are stored in a warehouse at Hoo Farm Industrial Estate (on the A449, just at the Southern tip of Kidderminster). Apparently, the barriers have to be stored in a controlled environment - being made out of steel, aluminium and rubber and needing to be relied on to be in perfect condition to be rolled out, this is understandable.

    Meanwhile, if you want a comprehensive gallery of the extent of the floods, there are dozens of pictures on the BBC H&W website (/worcester) - including several of places which skip the news bulletins.

    For example, in Tenbury Wells one of the brooks feeding the Teme flooded in the last heavy rains and destabilised the bank supporting a recently renovated Victorian toilet block. Needless to say, the block has now been completely undermined and has toppled into the brook. And a large chunk of the B4084 near Pershore (which used to be the A44 until a few years ago) has collapsed.

    Meanwhile, bad news for residents of the lower Severn - the EA are expecting a rise of 8" to flow through Bewdley tomorrow - just enough to tickle the flood barriers but if it maintains that height when it reaches Gloucester, it could top the flood barriers down there.

  22. At 07:59 AM on 24 Jul 2007, tom wrote:

    What a difference 53 miles makes, the difference between London to Gloucester and London to Sheffield. Do most producers in the BBC have second homes in the Cotswolds. The coverage on the floods has suddenly increased. Then I'm not suprised given the medias bias to all thing southern ( I exclude Devon and cornwall ).The sooner you have to move to Manchester the better.

  23. At 10:09 PM on 24 Jul 2007, mittfh wrote:

    I seem to recall a lot of coverage being given to the floods affecting the outskirts of Sheffield - particularly the dam that was threatening to burst.

    However, the Midlands situation involves lots of towns and several rivers. To mention but a few:

    Tenbury Wells (Teme)

    Gloucester (currently a near miss)


    Then there's the issue of a major water treatment plant being shut down after flooding, and the electricity substation near miss. I've also heard rumours (although I can't find any articles) that thousands of cattle have drowned because the water rose too quickly for the farmers to move them elsewhere.

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