Tewkesbury sets up flood incident room as river rises

Tewkesbury flooded in 2007 Much of Tewkesbury was flooded in 2007, leading to thousands of people having to leave their homes for temporary accommodation

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Tewkesbury, which was devastated by flooding five years ago, is on alert again following heavy rainfall and rising river levels.

The Environment Agency has set up an incident room amid fears that the River Severn could rise further.

The Gloucestershire town was one of the worst hit places during flooding in July 2007, with more than 1,800 households devastated.

Thousands of people were forced to move into temporary accommodation.

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said three incident rooms had been set up in the Midlands, including at Tewkesbury, while a further incident room was set up for the Wessex area.

Ian Lock, landlord of the Boat Inn at Ashleworth, which is south of Tewkesbury next to the Severn, told the BBC the water was "worryingly high".

He said: "We still could flood; the worry is if other towns further up the river put their flood defences up the water will come down here and we'll suffer."

The Environment Agency (EA) has more than 25 flood warnings in place on rivers including the Wid in Essex; the Ouzel at Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire; the Derwent in East Yorkshire, and the River Stour in Warwickshire.

Most are for the South West, and include several rivers such as the Yarty at Axminster; the Torridge at Bideford, and the Otter at Honiton, in Devon, and the sections of the Brue and Doniford Stream in Somerset.

Flooding alerts

Among those areas also subject to warnings were parts of the Ouse at York, where the river flooded footpaths following torrential rain on Thursday. The Ouse is currently 9ft 2in (2.8m) above normal summer levels, the EA said.

A flood warning also relates to riverside properties in Chelmsford, and the area around the Essex County Cricket Ground in the city.

There are more than 170 alerts in place, warning of possible flooding in areas throughout England and Wales, except for the North West and Cumbria.

Thousands of homes in south Wales, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Somerset have been left without electricity after strong winds and heavy rain brought down trees and power lines.

The heavy rain comes as many areas are currently in a state of drought following two unusually dry winters.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: "It's not unusual to experience heavy downpours and some flooding - mainly of farmland - at this time of year, but we're continuing to closely monitor the forecast and rainfall particularly in areas along the rivers Severn, Teme and Avon, including Worcestershire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.

"Environment Agency teams are out on the ground continuing a close watch on river levels as well as checking defences and clearing any potential blockages to reduce the risk of flooding."

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