FLOODING: Residents battle floodwater
HOUSEHOLDERS in Malmesbury are facing a soggy Christmas after last night’s deluge left homes flooded and roads blocked.
Properties by the town bridge were hit as the Avon burst its banks in the early hours of this morning. Homes at Foxley were also affected as one of the river’s tributaries overwhelmed a bridge and backed up.
Malmesbury Victoria FC's pitch disappeared under several feet of water and volunteer Chris Exton spent the night manning pumps in the clubhouse to keep as much of it out as possible.
Athelstan Players’ studio was flooded, but members, who have just launched an appeal to raise the building, had already moved props, scenery and costumes out of reach.
Water also made its way into the skater park building and the deep pool that developed under the Kingway rail bridge on the A429 at Hullavington claimed two cars.
Pat Ponting’s home in St John’s Street was badly inundated by several feet of water last November. This year she was expecting a family Christmas at home.
In fact she was so determined not to let the drama spoil her plans that after her possessions had been moved upstairs she decided to get the vegetables ready for the next day.
Luckily only a few inches of water came in. Son John, who had been monitoring the Environment Authority website, said: “It showed nothing for Malmesbury so I went to bed.”
Alerted at 6.30am he drove over from Cricklade to find a few inches of water in his mum’s house.
“She was up all night and she didn’t bother going to bed so she started preparing the Christmas dinner,” he told the Standard.
“We’re hoping we can just sweep it out. The water seems a lot cleaner this time and the flood gate has kept a lot out.”
Members of the Warden and Freemen, Terry Soule, Dave Richards and Steve Paginton were on the scene several hours before the Environment Agency raised the alarm just after 3am. “We got here about 11.30pm,” said Terry. “We were monitoring the river levels.”
“We then set to putting all the flood gates up. That kept us going for a couple of hours. The water was rising all the time and by 4am it was starting to go into No 1.”
They were joined by residents of other parts of the town who came to help people move their goods and chattels to safety.
Other neighbours and the staff at the Co-op made sure everyone was supplied with hot drinks and food to keep them going.
“They were all mucking in,” said Steve.
The town’s retained fire crew did their best to keep the water at bay. “The brigade were trying to pump the houses out, but as fast as they were pumping it out it was coming back in.”
Sam Paginton gathered up her two cats and waited it out in her bedroom. She emerged the next morning walking through her flooded home in wellies.
“Dad knocked on my door at about 12 to put the flood gate up and get things up on bricks. My friends came down and helped me to do that and then it was just a case of waiting.”
Having got her valuables out of the way of the water she was planning to spend Christmas Day with her family.
Town councillor Sue Poole, who lives in St John’s Street spent much of the night trying to alert drivers who had left their cars in the small riverside car park. “We got most people out,” she said. The owners of two cars could not be traced however and they were soon partially submerged.
Out at Foxley Stuart and Ann Lazenbury watched as the water came closer and closer to their cottage. Residents tried to pump it away from their homes but at least one house was affected.
As well as the overflowing brook they also had to contend with water from the road. “It was coming down the road in torrents,” said Ann. “We’ve never had this two years on the trot before.”