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Hero of the floods
Published 24/02/14

A MAN who saved houses in Shiplake from being flooded has been praised by villagers.

Chris Goforth took five of his own pumps to Station Road where he spent the next three days clearing floodwater.

He was helped by two builders, Shane Collinson and Roy Chambers of SWC, who were working on his house in Bolney Road last week.

Mr Goforth, 43, a shipping trader, said: “We got to the houses just in time as the water was getting close. We were able to pump it out faster than it could flow back in. We also set up a diversion for cars so they wouldn’t drive over the pumps or hoses.

“We had the pumps going from Wednesday to Friday and kept on going until the council came to unblock the drains. Shane and Roy had excrement in their boots, it was that bad. They were fantastic though.”

Miriam Dalton, 61, who lives in Station Road with husband Chris, 63, said: “We had sandbags around the whole house and the water was inches away from coming in. I had spoken to Thames Water and they had come out but said they couldn’t do anything.

“Chris got his builders to come with pumps and pumped a lot of the water away. They got the level right down and then the council came and did the rest. If Chris hadn’t been here the water would definitely have got inside the house.”

Kevin Hannah, manager of the Baskerville pub in Station Road, said: “We had water right up to the entrance of the pub and it was coming up through the drains.

“Lots of residents had problems with cars going to the station piling through the floodwater and making waves.It was a close call and if it hadn’t been for Chris and his pumps several of the houses would have been flooded.”

Mr Goforth, who lives with his wife Judy, 40, and children Charlotte, nine, Zack, eight, Oliver, seven, Jasper, three, and Daisy, six months, said: “I didn’t feel like a hero.

“Shiplake is full of wonderful people, any number of whom would have done exactly the same. You try to help the community when you can and it’s nice to be able to help out.

“At my own house we had 2ft of water in the garage and it was right up to the doorstep. I had to move the cars and we have filled two skips of stuff from the garage that was ruined and the driveway has been destroyed.”

A car body shop in Northfield Avenue belonging to Shiplake Motors was flooded after water came up through the toilet and floorboards. Owner Tony Freebody said: “It has been coming up through the floors and we don’t know how we can get it out. I’ve had at least two pumps running non-stop.

“We are trying to book in as few jobs as possible because I don’t want lots of cars here. There are also lots of the cars here that haven’t been picked up.”

Adrian Viorel Nica, 48, who runs the body shop, said: “I took a lot of water out but it keeps coming back up through the floor so I don’t know what to do.

“I’ve lost lots of stuff. My computer has gone and I’ve lost another motherboard.” He said he had been unable to work for three weeks, adding: “I like what I do but maybe I’ll have to do something else if it gets too bad.”

Henley MP John Howell visited areas hit by flooding at the weekend, including Henley, Sonning Eye and Dunsden.

He said: “The Prime Minister has reiterated that the Government will do everything necessary to deal with the effects of the extreme weather and has announced a package of measures to help people recover from flooding.

“We are clear that when it comes to this relief effort, money is no object and we will spend what is necessary to help families and communities get through this very difficult time.”

Meanwhile, roads in and around Henley have re-opened after the floodwaters began to go down. Wargrave Road was opened on Thursday last week after being closed for more than a week. New Street and River Side are also open, while Thames Side has one lane open with temporary traffic lights.

However, Mill Lane in Henley, Spring Lane in Playhatch, Mill Road in Lower Shiplake, Knightsbridge Lane in Pyrton, near Watlington, Icknield Road in South Stoke and Remenham Lane in Remenham all remain closed.Sonning Bridge will not open for several weeks as Oxfordshire County Council needs to assess the damage caused to the ground beneath the road surface, which it cannot do until the water level has dropped.

Councillor David Nimmo Smith, cabinet member for transport, said: “We have contractors on call ready to start but it’s unlikely that the road will be open for a few weeks.”

The River and Rowing Museum in Mill Meadows, Henley, re-opened on Friday after being shut for seven days. It had been closed because staff and visitors could not reach the car park, which was underwater. The museum opened in time to hold a classic car exhibition on Saturday, which had been postponed from last month because of floods.

Flood warnings remain in place along the River Thames in Henley, Shiplake, Wargrave and Charvil while Loddon Drive in Wargrave is still underwater after the River Loddon flooded.

The Environment Agency said: “River levels are forecast to fall slowly over the next few days but property flooding from the river is still possible.”

The forecast is for light rain over the weekend.

THE River and Rowing Museum in Henley has re-opened following the flooding.

It had been closed for nine days because staff and visitors could not reach the car park, which was underwater.

Traffic problems have also eased with the start of the school half-term holidays and roads re-opening as surface water has drained away.

Wargrave Road, which had been closed for more than a week, was re-opened to traffic on Saturday. Thames Side in Henley is open but has temporary traffic lights to help drivers avoid surface water.

But Remenham Lane in Remenham, Mill Lane in Henley, Mill Road in Lower Shiplake, Lands End Ford in Charvil, Spring Lane in Playhatch, Icknield Road in South Stoke and Sonning Bridge remain closed.

High winds on Friday brought down a 25ft fir tree in Deanfield Avenue which smashed a BMW Estate, writing it off.

More than 140 trees and big branches were brought down in Oxfordshire during the night.

A flood warning remains in place for the Thames in Henley, where the river level remains high but stable.

The Environment Agency said: “Levels are forecast to rise again over the next few days in response to recent rainfall but are currently expected to be lower than the levels seen last week.

“Some isolated property flooding from the river is still possible and further disruption to low lying roads is expected.”

The weather forecast is for light rain today and tomorrow (Tuesday) but Wednesday should be dry.

a health hazard. It’s something that shouldn’t really be happening and could easily be rectified. I think all that’s needed is one tanker to clear the drain.”

She claimed that if a wall was built around the pumping station and a sump installed this would solve the problem.

“The whole thing happened last year and it could have been rectified but nothing’s been done and we’re back in the same situation,” said Ms Flavell. “Given how much money we pay Thames Water, we’re not getting the service we should be.”

Alison Hussey had to move out of Why Cottage in Hambleden, which is near the pumping station, last year because the problem became so bad.

She said: “It was five months of hell and it got to the point where lorries were driving past every 40 minutes. The house was shaking, the smell was disgusting, there was raw sewage everywhere and I just couldn’t bear it anymore to be honest.”

Three new pumps were installed at the pumping station but Mrs Hussey claims the company should have built a small brick wall around it and installed a sump.

She said: “I’m very sad and I’m very angry about it. I’m sad because I’ve got a lot of friends down there and it makes me feel physically sick when I go past. I’m incredibly angry because there is raw sewage flowing into the Thames. From an environmental and ecological point of view, it’s atrocious. It is disgraceful because they knew they could have done something about it. Basically their infrastructure is just not equipped to deal with the 21st century.”

Alex Dick, manager of the Culden Faw Estate, told how sewage had also been discharged from the treatment works. “We have got condoms, sanitary towels, everything else floating through here and then on to Hurley, Medmenham and Marlow,” he said.“This has been going on for some time and the issue is not the fact that the Thames is flooded, it’s the fact that the Thames Water electrical pumps are not protected from water.

“Fortunately, our property at Mill End doesn’t have a tenant in it but we have got raw sewage running through the estate, past our livestock, horses and sheep, and running into Temple Island Meadows.”

The meadows are home to the Loddon lily and the estate had been working with Natural England to improve the area.

Mr Dick added: “As an estate, we feel for the residents of Mill End who are actually living with this.”

On Wednesday, an environment officer with the Environment Agency visited the Culden Faw Estate to take samples and Wycombe district councillor Roger Metcalfe, who represents the Hambleden Valley ward, visited the Malthouse. Cllr Metcalfe said: “The point is the health concern here and we don’t want the effluent to come up to surface level every time it floods. It’s just not acceptable, that’s the challenge for Thames Water to solve for us.”

A Thames Water spokesman said: “Our pumping station in Hambleden is now working as it should but is inundated with the sheer volume of water in the system caused by river flooding and groundwater. Previously the station was itself infiltrated by floodwater from the Thames which caused a problem with the electrics that led to the pumps failing. This has been fixed and we’ve taken measures to ensure the electrics are better protected.

“We’re doing our best to help affected customers but we have to prioritise those most in need of our support and, at this point, this means vulnerable customers and those suffering from sewer flooding inside their homes. As soon as water levels subside, we’ll be able to start assessing affected areas.”

Published 24/02/14

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