Bewdley floods: Repeat of 2020 'beyond heartbreaking'

image captionBev Styles said agencies did not learn from last year's flooding

A property owner "heartbroken" to have her rental homes flooded for a second time in 12 months says she is angry barriers have been breached once again.

Bev Styles said the River Severn rushed into Bewdley, Worcestershire, "like a tsunami" when defences failed in the early hours of Saturday.

"They didn't learn from last year," she claimed after defences in the Beales Corner area were topped once more.

The Environment Agency (EA) said it understood the frustration.

While Bewdley has permanent flood defences, the barriers at Beales Corner, where Ms Styles's properties are located, are temporary structures. The town suffered flooding in February 2020 when water seeped over them.

She said: "The fact it happened again in less than 12 months, it's beyond heartbreaking.

"I feel very cross, we don't have adequate barriers, we now seem to have smaller barriers, they didn't learn from last year.

"I can't get any answers as to why it was like a tsunami when [the barriers] collapsed."

image copyrightBev Styles
image captionMs Styles's rental properties were flooded over the weekend

Ms Styles runs a family-owned business that rents out 14 properties.

One of her flats was "back to its bare brick" and ready to be repaired next week following last year's damage, but now it is "sat in 4ft of water again".

She said: "It's soul-destroying, the flat was empty thankfully, but that's not the point... is it going to take fatalities before they sit up and listen?"

She said tenants were "stranded" all weekend. "Luckily the insurance are paying," she added, "but it's tripled, I'm not sure we'll get [insurance] again."

Local MP Mark Garnier, Conservative, said there was a "horrible sense of déjà vu".

image copyrightBev Styles
image captionOne home that was previously flooded is once again "sat in 4m of water"

At the weekend, the EA described the barriers as having been "compromised" due to rising water levels on Saturday.

It said it was conducting a "thorough investigation".

Claire Dinnis, the EA's area director for the West Midlands, told BBC Hereford and Worcester: "Temporary barriers can only give a certain level of protection and it's true in the past we've trialled some higher barriers in particular in Beales Corner and actually because of the ground condition there, they didn't give us any higher level of protection than the ones we used this year."

image copyrightLinda Withey
image captionBarriers did not manage to keep out the River Severn

She said the EA was working on permanent solutions, adding the higher barriers used previously "take longer to put up", meaning the community was "disrupted for longer".

She added: "If those higher barriers gave a greater level of protection then they're what we would use there but they don't.

"I understand the frustration. We're working as hard as we can to find those solutions."

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