Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire severe weather: 'The floods will not defeat us'

Resident Richard Perry looks out of the back door of his house protected by sang bags in Alney Island, Gloucester Image copyright AFP
Image caption The river came within centimetres of overtopping the wall of Richard Perry's Alney Island garden

Residents in Gloucester are thankful the flood defences were not breached by a high tide on the River Severn on Friday morning.

Despite the severe flood warning, meaning lives were at risk, the predicted peaks of the tidal River Severn did not overtop the main defence wall in Alney Island.

But it came very close. Certainly too close for comfort. And it could still come.

Image caption A flood defence wall (bottom right of picture) built after the 2007 crisis held the water back this time

One resident said she had had a restless night's sleep, wondering what she would find in the morning, but another was more relaxed in a family home raised up on bricks.

By 06:00 GMT, with most homes still in total darkness, the first of many camera crews were in place, searching for an early headline.

Chris Bainger, from the Environment Agency, was already at work, looking relieved there was little to report but still on high alert to further flood risks.

It had been an emotional rollercoaster for residents. On Thursday a troop of soldiers worked under blue skies to place sandbags and plastic sheeting around every front door.

After waiting and wondering, residents wake on Friday to find the flood defences have done their job.

Despite the skies being heavy with rain and officials warning the storm is not yet over, the message is defiant. "The floods will not defeat us" reads a sign in one of the 60 threatened properties.

'It's normal'

The scene was very different 11 miles (18km) away in Tewkesbury, where once again the town is underwater.

Flooding has shut roads into the town centre and sandbags and pumps are being used to protect a number of at risk properties.

For local residents though, the scene is all too familiar.

Lorna Scott, 39, has lived in the town for more than three decades and says the surrounding flood water "is normal" for residents.

"Having been flooded in 2007 you've got the constant worry every year.

Image caption Some residents at the Back of Avon, Tewkesbury, overlook a vast expanse of water
Image caption The floodplain beside Tewkesbury Abbey is doing its job and holding millions of gallons of water

"The works they did in 2007 have been tremendous. You're not seeing the water levels on the streets and the drains are clear, so the work they did has helped."

For Ms Scott, the biggest impact of the flooding was its effect on her day-to-day errands, as well as having roads closed and schools shutting early.

Water levels are well below what they were in July 2007 but, this time, the water has outstayed its welcome.

Most residents are fed up and frustrated that the flooding around the town has hung around for so long.

'Here too long'

Eighty-three year old Harry Robertson has lived in the town all his life.

"Every year it is the same but it's not normally as bad as this," he said.

"It has been here too long as it has got nowhere to go. The earth is soaking wet and it is just not soaking away. We had rain at the start of Christmas and it has been similar to this ever since."

The water also causes worry. Sleepless nights. Anxiety.

Adam Richardson, 41, had taken the day off work in order to keep a watchful eye on his house, his family and the flooding around the town.

"I think we should be thinking about moving up to higher ground," he said. "Every year it is getting more concerning for us.

"You tend to find yourself getting up during the night just to look out of the window, to see what the street is like."

Image caption A handful of properties near the Back of Avon in Tewkesbury are pumping water away from their front doors

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