View south from above Tewkesbury
The day it rained forever
Hear reflections on the devastating summer floods of July 2007 and their aftermath, from those at the very heart of the crisis, in a special BBC Radio Gloucestershire documentary.
Friday July 20th 2007 was the day Gloucestershire's schools broke up for the summer holidays. So it was no real surprise when the county woke that morning to heavy rain and warnings of more torrential downpours on the way.
But no one dreamed that morning that Gloucestershire was on a brink of a truly devastating natural disaster. Or that this July deluge would make history by triggering the county's biggest ever peacetime emergency.
Caravan life: Julie Irwin and daughter
No ordinary storm
Yet as the day wore on it became obvious that this was no ordinary storm, but extreme weather on a scale seldom seen in Britain.
In hours the relentless rain had left hundreds of homes and businesses under water, and thousands of drivers and travellers were stranded as road and rail routes were inundated by fast-rising flood waters.
But that was just the start. Soon the taps ran dry for half the county's population as a water treatment station on the outskirts of Tewkesbury was overwhelmed by the floods.
And emergency services faced a desperate battle to save the county's power supplies as the Walham electricity sub-station near Gloucester also threatened to fall victim to the rising flood-waters.
In this hour-long audio documentary, presented by Clare Parrack, flood victims and officials directly involved in dealing with the unfolding disaster reflect on the events of July 2007 and their aftermath. You can also hear how BBC Radio Gloucestershire reported the dramatic events as they happened.
Tim Brain, Chief Constable of Gloucestershire and commander of Gold Control, the county's emergency management team, and Terry Standing, Chief Officer of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue, recall their memories of the dramatic events - and the lessons they feel have been learned both locally and nationally.
Bowsers became a familiar sight
And Hazel Lonsdale, chief executive of Cheltenham Volunteer Centre, pays tribute to the amazing community spirit that Gloucestershire people demonstrated during those difficult days.
It's resulted in the setting up of a new system called Making Minutes Matter which will make it easier for busy people to do voluntary work as and when they have the time.
In the documentary flood victims share their feelings about the devastating emotional and practical consequences of seeing their homes ruined.
They include Julie Irwin, from Tewkesbury, who helped organise the Away In A Caravan Christmas card campaign to highlight the plight of flood victims still out of their damaged homes months after disaster struck, and Kelly Bartlett, who chairs a campaign group of residents who were flooded out in the Longlevens area of Gloucester.
In all 4000 homes and 500 businesses across Gloucestershire were affected by flooding.
The music featured in this documentary is from Washed Away, a CD by county-based Irish band Elysian that's donating 30 per cent of its profits to the Gloucestershire Flood Relief Fund. Paul O'Neill wrote the title track after his own family home in Chaceley was flooded out.
last updated: 03/02/2009 at 13:02
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