I was expecting that round about now I would have sorted through a mass of photos from Truck Festival, and would be writing a lengthy piece about my experiences there. However it was not to be. About 4pm on Friday, I received a text from a friend to warn me it had been cancelled. A quick check on the site revealed what was going on; Steveton, and in particular the Truck site, was now under several feet of water due to Ginge Brook bursting its banks. As it now turns out, parts Oxfordshire had two months of rain in the course of an hour on Friday, and this quickly started to take its toll.
I was disappointed, but over the next couple of days it became quickly apparent that this wasn’t just a local problem, the Thames (Isis as we call it round here) and several other rivers throughout Oxfordshire and several other countries has started to overflow. Hundreds of thousands of homes have been flooded, whole towns are without water or electricity, basically it is carnage. It seems we’ve been “lucky” in Oxfordshire compared to Gloucestershire, but we still have many people in Oxford and the surrounding towns and villages who have been flooded and evacuated.
The warnings for Oxford itself starting coming on Sunday, when it became apparent that the Thames was rising rapidly, and that in particular the Botley Road and Abingdon Road were flooded. What annoyed me was that a warning went out for all of Oxford, but it was really hard to figure out using the local information where it was going to affect. The council sites made it clear that residents most at risk were being notified, and sandbags were being issued, but there were no maps, and relatively vague information. Now I know we’re just off the floodplain here (by a few hundred yards), but we’re not obviously uphill, and given how widespread the flooding had been elsewhere, what if the flood maps were wrong by a few hundred yards? I decided to trust them, but I’m sure the emergency and council services must have been inundated with calls from people less trusting than myself, whose minds could have been laid at rest by more information. Something that needs sorting out, I reckon.