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River breaks banks causing road closures
Published 09/01/14



A HENLEY street was partially closed today (Thursday) as the flooding misery continued.

A stretch of Thames Side by Hobbs was closed by police at about 10.30am as the road was under several inches of water by Hobbs of Henley and the opposite carriageway was expected to be shut later today. Drivers were being redirected via Friday Street.

The Angel on the Bridge pub was also shut this morning.

Meanwhile, the B478 Playhatch Road between Sonning and Playhatch was still closed due to water on the road making it impassable.

This led to queues of traffic approaching Henley and Caversham during the morning rush hour for the third day running. Remenham Lane in Remenham has also been closed as has Meadow Road, which leads to the River and Rowing Museum.

The museum and the Country Gardens garden centre in Playhatch are still closed and there is expected to be more disruption to local sports fixtures this weekend.

Flood warnings are still in place for Henley, Shiplake, Wargrave, Caversham, Playhatch, Sonning, Mapledurham, Goring, Whitchurch, Hurley and Medmenham.

The Environment Agency said the water was expected to reach its peak tomorrow (Friday) as it continues to flow downstream.

There have been reports of homes being flooded in both Shiplake and Wargrave but not in Henley, although sandbags are stockpiled in King’s Road car park just in case.

A pensioner was rescued from his flooded home in Loddon Drive, Wargave, yesterday.

Firefighters were called by a relative of the man who had run out of his medication but was unable to get out of the house. They used an inflatable dinghy to reach the man, who is in his seventies.

Hobbs of Henley managing director Jonathan Hobbs said the floods were worse than last year’s but had not reached the record levels of 2003, which are marked with a plaque outside his office.

Mr Hobbs said: “I can’t see the water going down for a long time. It could be high for another two weeks. It’s frustrating but it’s manageable at the moment. All our boats are safe and we’ve got sandbags, while we managed to lift everything off the floor in the storage boathouse so there’s no damage.”

The mermaid statue is virtually the only visible feature of Red Lion Lawn due to the high water level and Lion Meadow, the car park for Henley Royal Regatta, is submerged.

The downstream river level at Whitchurch Lock is the highest ever recorded at 3.53m, beating the previous record set 10 years ago by 11cm.

Work on Whitchurch toll bridge, which was scheduled to resume on Monday after the Christmas break, has been delayed because the pontoons and river crafts can’t be used safely.

Bridge company secretary Geoff Weir said: “The compound on the river meadow is almost flooded so it looks like work will be pretty much stopped until next week.”

Elaine Emmanuel, who co-owns the French Horn restaurant in Sonning, said the floods had badly affected custom.

She said: “It’s always quiet at this time of year but it has hit us big time. Sonning Bridge is fine but once you are past the French Horn it’s like a lake.”

At Wargrave Boating Club there was about 4ft of floodwater, which reached the main boat storage room.

Four members of the club used a Canadian canoe to reach the club in order to move the boats and other equipment.

The red boards warning of a strong stream and high river levels remain in place.

David Bedlington, regional flood risk manager for the Environment Agency, said: “We continue to encourage the public in affected areas to remain vigilant and to keep a close eye on media reports and weather forecasts.

“It is important to take extra care in deep or flowing water — do not take risks if you are unsure of the depth of the water or of any hidden hazards.”

The Met Office forecasts the weather will improve at the weekend but there could be heavy rain on Friday night and some light rain on Sunday evening.

• Henley Cricket Club’s annual meeting, which had been due to take place in the pavilion at its Brakspear Ground on Sunday has been moved to Hotel du Vin as the ground is flooded.


Published 09/01/14

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