10:30AM, Monday 10 February 2014
Rising water levels in East Berkshire are leaving homes and businesses under threat and causing travel disruption.
This blog will be updated throughout the week with the latest news on the floods and information on public transport and the roads.
Reporters and photographers will be be out and about on patch and you can send us your photos and news to firstname.lastname@example.org
AMPM loss adjustors has set up a temporary office at 17 Wharf Road in Wraysbury, to offer no obligation insurance advice to residents affected from flooding.
Gary Rogers, from the firm, said: “We’re here to offer residents advice to residents about the claims procedure.”
With river levels falling and the flooding having receded significantly in many areas, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is now starting to scale back the resources used to deal with the situation.
From tomorrow, all of the crews and officers from the other fire and rescue services across England and Wales who have been assisting RBFRS will return home, apart from those crewing the High Volume Pumps (HVPs) and officers from the National Resilience Assurance Team.
HVPs are still in place in key locations around the county, including Wraysbury, pumping out flood and groundwater. HVPs can pump out water at a rate of 7,000 litres per minute, compared with a standard fire appliance, which pumps out water at 2,500 litres per minute.
As a precautionary measure, RBFRS will also keep extra resources such as additional fire appliances in place in key areas for the time being.
In addition, RBFRS will continue to offer assistance and support to people in flood-hit communities.
Group Manager Steve Smith said: “People may notice that there are significantly fewer fire crews around after today than they have been used to seeing over the last couple of weeks.
“However, I would like to reassure people that we are still working very hard to pump out water in the worst affected areas and that we are constantly monitoring and reviewing our operations.
“If the situation should change, we will once again move staff and equipment around accordingly and put extra resources in place if required."
He thanked fire crews from across the country, residents affected by the flooding who have been 'extremely helpful and supportive' despite 'having often suffered devastating damage to their homes and property' and 'the kind people who have brought out refreshments for the crews'.
The Prime Minister met with volunteers and members of the Armed Forces.
He visited Wraysbury Primary School in Welley Road and also the community hub which opened yesterday in the Village Hall in Allen Way, Datchet.
Full details here.
Financial help is available for residents hit by the floods.
People who have suffered 'hardship or distress' can apply for up to £500 from The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Flood Relief Fund.
The fund can also be used to pay for some flood protection measures.
People evacuated from their homes can also apply for council tax exemption.
Email council.tax@RBWM.gov.uk for details.
* The Berkshire Community Foundation has launched a fund to support community groups and charities which are aiding flood-hit communities.
Donations can be made here and community groups in immediate need should call 01189 303021.
First Great Western say trains between Reading and London Paddington may be delayed by up to 15 minutes due to flooding at Twyford.
Thursday February 20 - 9.16am
Progress has been made in the battle to prevent sewage from overflowing drains entering homes and gardens in the Street.
Last week, the Advertiser reported on residents who have faced weeks of filth bubbling up as a nearby pumping station struggles to cope with the flow of water coming down from the Knowl Hill area.
Cllr David Evans (Con, Hurley and the Walthams), who lives on the road, said Thames Water has now sent in tankers to help relieve the pressure on the pumping station.
A meeting has also been scheduled with senior management from the company in April to try and find a long-term solution to the problem.
Thames Valley Police has issued the below advice to Royal Borough residents on behalf of the Environment Agency & Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE):
Please consider the following advice for after a flood from SSE:
The Environment Agency advises the following:
Cleaning up after a flood
If you don’t have insurance, your local council should be able to provide you with information on hardship grants and charities.
Among the volunteers still hard at work are a group of Salvation Army members who have been posted at Maidenhead Fire Station for the past week.
The group has set up a mobile canteen to offer snacks and hot drinks as busy crews arrive from all over the country to help with the flood relief efforts.
Businesses and invidivuals have innundated the canteen with donations of chocolate bars, crisps and even curry portions to the point it has more food than it can hand out.
Lieutenant Marie Burr, of the Slough division, said she expected the canteen to remain at the station, off Bridge Road, until the end of the week and added: "It's what England is all about.
"We always step up to the challenge and help out."
Following the opening of Cookham Bridge, the emergency measures put in place allowing traffic to use the Causeway have been ended.
Message from Superintendent Kate Ford – silver commander for the floods (Berkshire)
Thames Valley Police and other partner agencies have now relocated one of its operational bases back to Windsor police station.
Wraysbury Primary School has now been handed back to its management to allow them to prepare for the return of their pupils next week.
Representatives from the police, fire service, local authority, military and Environment Agency have collectively worked from the school since last Tuesday, allowing them to swiftly respond to any issues regarding the floods as well as providing local residents an opportunity to pop in for advice or to talk through any questions or concerns and provide community reassurance.
In addition, three multi-agency community hubs have been set-up to provide temporary points of contact for residents in the most affected areas of the floods.
The hubs, which can provide helpful information and advice, opened to the public this morning.
They will be initially staffed by representatives from Thames Valley Police’s neighbourhood policing teams and local authority, as well as Environment Agency ambassadors. They will be joined by other key partner agencies with the aim of helping residents’ lives return to normal following the severe flooding in the area.
One of the hubs is operating from Datchet Parish Council offices, in Allen Way, with a second hub situated within Wraysbury Baptist Hall, in High Street.
A third hub, which will serve people living in the Bisham/Cookham/Hurley area, has been set-up in Cookham Parish Council, High Road, Cookham Rise.
All three hubs will be open from 9am to 7pm.
The water levels in Windsor and Maidenhead are now stabilising and will be dropping slowly over the next 24 to 48 hours. No further river flooding of properties is expected. We are not expecting any heavy rain over the next five days which is also good news as the local authority and partners starts the clean-and-repair operation across the borough.
Cookham Bridge is now open to traffic.
The Association of British Insurers has released a guide to help people whose property has been affected by the floods.
The organisation has assured all owners that insurance companies will do everything they can to help, with more than £3bn of claims being met in the aftermath of the 2007 flooding.
It advises people to contact their insurance company at the earliest possible stage to get the clean-up and repair operation under way and arrange alternative accommodation if necessary.
A loss adjuster will then be appointed to assess the claim and survey the damage, before the reinstatement process is explained.
You should hear from a loss adjuster two days after contacting your insurer and if a visit is needed, they will aim to do so within seven days of the water receding.
The loss adjuster will then arrange a strip-out, dry and clean of the property, which could take from a few weeks to a few months.
A builder will be appointed to do the repair and reconstruction work after a certificate from the drying company is issued and anti-bacterial work is completed.
Plans will then be made to move you back in.
Datchet Library is now open for normal hours this week.
The container library will not visit Wraysbury Village Hall Car Park on The Green today due to essential repair work to the container.
All other libraries are operating normally, although certain mobile library stops are inaccessible. Regular customers at those stops will be contacted to alert them when the vehicle is not able to visit. Customers can borrow and return items at any library in the borough.
Roads still closed (subject to ongoing review):
Cookham Bridge remains closed and police are enforcing the closure
B4447 The Pound, Cookham
Ferry Lane, Cookham
Meadow Lane, Eton
Pococks Lane, Eton
Shepherds Lane, Hurley
A308 Runnymede, Surrey
Wednesday February 19 - 8.49am
The multi-agency hubs have been set up to provide temporary points of contact for residents in the areas most affected by the flooding, and will provide information and advice.
The Royal Borough is mounting a massive clear up to help residents in flood-hit areas.
As flood water recedes the council is starting a huge clean-and-repair operation across the borough, with particular focus on helping people in the worst-hit areas of Bisham, Cookham, Hurley, Wraysbury, Datchet and Old Windsor.
Full details here.
The armed forces drafted in to help flood victims say they are still standing-by since leaving their base at Bisham CE Primary School, they are now based outside Court Garden Leisure Complex in Pound Lane, Marlow.
Although the weather is generally improving and river levels are stabilising or falling in some places, the Environment Agency is advising homeowners, businesses and communities to stay vigilant.
Flood Warnings are still in place across the South East. There are 59 Flood Warnings and 100 Flood Alerts currently in force across the region.
As the risk of further flooding remains, the Environment Agency is making sure temporary defences and pumps continue to be deployed in the locations where they will be most effective.
Pumps are deployed at locations including Cookham and Myrke Ditch (Slough) to help drain flood water away.
Groundwater levels continue to rise across the region increasing the likelihood of localised flooding, levels are likely to remain high for some weeks to come. The risk of groundwater flooding remains a concern in Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Kent and parts of London.
Simon Hughes, Environment Agency regional manager, said: “People should stay vigilant as flood water can take time to recede, and many areas are still at risk from surface water flooding and groundwater flooding along with those properties still flooded from the river.
“We’re continuing to monitor river levels closely and are assessing the temporary defences and pumps we have deployed to make sure they are in the locations where they will be most effective. We are not withdrawing any defences, or support for local communities, where it is still likely to be needed, and decisions on removing any defences are being made by all partners involved in managing the floods on a case by case basis. “
Flood Ambassadors continue to provide advice to communities in areas including Datchet, Wraysbury and Old Windsor.
Message from Chief Inspector Lee Townsend – today’s silver commander covering the floods in the Royal Borough:
Police officers continue to be visible in affected areas this afternoon, in Wraysbury, Datchet, Horton, Hurley Bisham and Cookham.
One of our neighbourhood policing officers attended a community meeting in Datchet last night, alongside other key partner agencies, where he updated local residents on the current flooding situation. The overall mood was described as positive with there being a real sense of continued community spirit.
A similar community meeting is expected to take place for residents in Wraysbury at 7pm tonight at St Andrews Baptist Church. We will be present to answer any questions or concerns raised.
Working in continued partnership with the local authority, the military, fire and rescue and the Environment Agency, our primary role remains to conduct high visibility patrols in those affected areas, checking on vulnerable people, offering reassurance, crime prevention advice and acting as a deterrent to crime and responding to incidents.
We are currently investigating a burglary in Pococks Lane, Eton, which was reported to us yesterday. Two laptops and a computer monitor were stolen. The property was unoccupied at the time due to the floods.
This is a good reminder for everyone to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity or persons to us immediately. People should also ensure that their properties and vehicles are secured at all times.
While water levels reached their maximum yesterday, they are expected to gradually recede throughout the week.
Although rain is expected today, the weather forecast for the next five days is not expected to see increased levels, which is reassuring. However, as a matter of precaution, we must not be complacent.
As and when we start to safely move towards a recovery stage, police resources on the ground will be reviewed regularly. However, I would like to reassure local communities that police officers will always be deployable to respond quickly to local issues should they arise.
Our intention is to relocate one of our operational bases, which is currently running at Wraysbury Primary School, back to Windsor police station over the next 24 hours, in order to allow the school to prepare for the return of its pupils next week. This will not adversely impact on the policing operation.
We are also currently in consultation with the Local Authority to establish multi-agency community hubs which will provide temporary points of contact for residents.
Cookham Bridge remains closed, with police enforcing the closure after motorists ignored the road closed signs.
The bridge opened for a brief period on Sunday but was closed again quickly due to police concerns.
Watch a video by photographer Nick Parford below
As flood water in many areas subsides, it's understandable that many people want to dispose of sandbags as part of the clearing-up process.
But with groundwater levels still very high and more rain forecast, Buckinghamshire County Council is recommending that anyone who has needed sandbags to keep water off of their property over the last few weeks should keep all sandbags in place while Environment Agency flood warnings and alerts are still in force.
Council leader Martin Tett said: "It's not worth taking any risk with your property and our advice is to keep hold of your sandbags while there's still a flood danger.
"Once the risk has passed, we'll be working with other agencies to offer advice on sandbag disposal."
Services on the First Great Western (FGW) network are beginning to return to something close to normality - but some disruption remains following the floods.
Flooded signalling equipment near Maidenhead last week led to widespread delays and cancellations, but Network Rail engineers carried out work over the weekend and will continue work every night this week to solve the problem.
A near-normal train service is operating in and out of London Paddington but FGW has warned trains travelling through Maidenhead and Twyford may be delayed by 20 minutes or revised at short notice.
Some services can still not operate, including direct services between Bourne End and Paddington.
Passengers with unused tickets purchased up to and including yesterday can use them until Friday, but normal ticket restrictions are in place from today.
Tuesday February 18 - 9.10am
A short compilation of flooding in Maidenhead, Cookham, Marlow and Bourne End. Filmed on Saturday & Sunday by Jack Bennet.
Volunteers from the British Red Cross are using the charity’s catering vehicle to provide meals to hundreds of hungry firefighters responding to the flooding in Berkshire.
Yesterday, volunteers served up more than 450 meals to firefighters in Windsor at a location being used as a muster point for crews from 16 fire and rescue services across the country.
Being well fed and properly hydrated is essential to help the firefighters continue their vital work carrying out rescues, assisting with salvage operations, constructing flood defences and moving household items for people unable or unwilling to leave their homes.
Pam Baggaley, Red Cross senior service manager for emergency response, says: “We’re using a mobile catering unit we’ve borrowed from our colleagues in Kent and Sussex and yesterday our volunteers served up more than 450 meals to the fire service.
“Curry seems to the be most popular dish and so are chilli and jacket potatoes.
“The catering unit is usually used to provide meals for Red Cross volunteers providing first aid at large public events or providing meals to people during major emergency response incidents, just like this one.”
The Red Cross has a long history of working with the fire service in Berkshire. In October 1993 the charity set up its very first fire and emergency support service, which provides vital support to vulnerable people in the immediate aftermath of a fire or other emergency.
Volunteers arrive at the scene in a specially-adapted vehicle which acts as a safe-haven for those involved and frees up the fire service to fight the fire, knowing those affected are being supported. Volunteers provide basics such as clean clothing, food, drink and even pet food. But the most important aspect is the emotional support provided at a time of crisis.
The peak of FES activity was in the mid-late 2000s when, along with house fires, the volunteers provided support in rest centres set up to help those affected by the London bombings in 2005 and Oxford floods in 2007.
The British Red Cross supports people affected by emergencies both in the UK and abroad – from natural disasters such as floods and fire to terrorist attacks.
For more information visit here.
The following roads have re-opened:
Beaulieu Close, Datchet
Slough Road, Datchet
Southlea Road, Datchet
Datchet Road, Horton
Welley Road, Wraysbury
Sutton Road, Cookham
Lower Cookham Road, Maidenhead
Bradenhams Lane, Temple
The Environment Agency is removing the 14 severe flood warnings from along the River Thames this afternoon.
This means that lives are no longer regarded as being at risk near areas of river along Datchet, Wraysbury and Old Windsor, down towards Staines and Chertsey.
But ordinary flood warnings remain firmly in place, meaning that renewed flooding could happen any time in the next three days causing damage to homes and property.
Simon Hughes, Environment Agency regional manager, said: "While it is positive news that river levels along the Thames have stabilised enough to remove the severe flood warnings, we are still urging communities to be vigilant as river levels are still high."
He warned that groundwater flooding was a major cause of concern, because some areas were so saturated after the last few weeks.
This has been a particular problem in Datchet where some roads have experienced unexpected surges in the water level.
Message from Superintendent Kate Ford – silver commander for floods in the Royal Borough.
“My officers continue to maintain a visible police presence in areas affected by the floods – Wraysbury, Datchet, Horton, Hurley, Bisham and Cookham.
“Working closely in partnership with the local authority, the military, fire and rescue and the Environment Agency, our primary role remains to conduct regular patrols in those affected areas, checking on vulnerable people, offering reassurance, crime prevention advice and acting as a deterrent to crime.
“We wait to see what happens over the next few hours with regards to water levels which may rise. However, we are not expecting them to peak to the levels we have previously seen which is reassuring.
“Obviously, the situation does very much depend on the weather so we must not be complacent.
“While we have experienced a handful of minor crimes, mainly thefts from motor vehicles, we continue to have no burglaries reported in the affected areas which is good news.
“To try and maintain this, I would like to take this opportunity to remind residents to keep their properties secure, especially those who have had to move away temporarily.
“Some of the thefts from cars reported to us have unfortunately occurred as a result of vehicles being left insecure. I would like to remind motorists to secure their vehicles at all times, even if they are literally popping away for a short while. Opportunistic thieves take seconds to strike!
“We are also investigating an incident where a bogus caller claiming to be from the Environment Agency called at an addresses in Maidenhead and Wraysbury, asking the occupants to leave as a nearby bank was about to burst. This was not the case.
“It is really important that residents check for ID at all times and if in doubt, call the relevant agency to confirm details as was the case in this instance thankfully.
She added: “With it being half term this week, I would like to remind people of the need to keep safe and not use flooded areas as playgrounds. Anyone venturing into such areas needs to be aware of the risk of drowning. Stay safe and remain cautious when undertaking journeys in affected areas, avoiding driving through flood water whenever possible. Do not drive through road closures. They are there for a reason even if you cannot see an obvious obstruction. You don’t know what is below the surface of the water.
“There continues to be a tremendous amount of community spirit out there with local residents and voluntary groups helping one another, and once again I would like to pay tribute to them and the way in which they have worked with all agencies.”
Rail services between Windsor and Staines has reopened after being closed for a week due to flooding.
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