The Environment Agency is working closely with Devon County Council and East Devon and South Hams District Councils to help communities in the aftermath of the weekend's floods.
Intense rainfall swept across the region causing serious flooding in parts of the South Hams and East Devon. More than 120mm (5 inches) of rain fell in some areas that received a month’s worth of rain in less than 12 hours. Worst affected were Axminster, Ottery St Mary, Yealmpton and Modbury.
Already representatives from the Environment Agency and Local Authorities have been out on joint visits to affected communities to hear first hand from residents about their experiences over the weekend.
On Tuesday 10 July officers from the Environment Agency, Devon County Council and East Devon District Council met with the Mayor of Axminster and town councillors to see the damage themselves and hear the accounts of flooded residents. They visited several locations in the town and promised to work with the local community to improve the standard of Axminster’s flood defences.
‘It was a very positive visit and humbling to hear the accounts of residents whose homes had been flooded. People recognised the scale of the event and that the amount of rain that fell was unprecedented.They also appreciated the flood warnings we issued,’ said Martin Weiler for the Environment Agency.
More than 60 homes and businesses were flooded in Axminster after the River Axe and two local streams over-topped their banks resulting in the flooding of properties at various locations in the town.
Local transport was also disrupted with several roads made impassable by surface water and train services stopped after the local railway line flooded. Axminster Community College was also flooded by surface water.
Worst affected was the Willhayes Park estate where a number of homes were flooded to a depth of 3ft after the Mill Brook over-topped its bank. Flooding also occurred at the bottom of Castle Hill and around Stoney Bridge. Several homes at Weycroft Bridge on the outskirts of Axminster were also flooded.
Highways affected included the main Axminster to Chard road and Axminster to Kilmington road that was flooded after the RiverYarty over-topped its bank. A record river level of 3.58 metres was recorded at the Weycroft Bridge Gauging Station on the River Axe, easily surpassing the previous highest level of 2.94metres recorded in 2000.
In Yealmpton several homes were flooded after the River Yealm over-topped its banks early Saturday morning in the Tor Bridge and Yealm Bridge area of the village. Torrential rain on Dartmoor turned the Yealm into a raging torrent that over-whelmed defences and flooded nearby properties including the WI/Village Hall.
There was also serious disruption in nearby Modbury where a number of properties and roads were flooded in the town centre.
‘We are committed to working with the local community and their representitives to understand this flood event and work with communities to ensure a smooth recovery period,’ said Martin Weiler.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation and lead member for flood risk management, said, ‘We are working together with local communities, councils and agencies to gain a full understanding of what happened. We will continue to meet with more people who were affected by the floods over the next few weeks and as we start to get a more complete picture of the impact that this event has had, we will look to provide help wherever we can.’
‘It is imperative that now the flood waters have receded we work together to get communities up and running again as quickly as possible,’ said Ian Bollans, Head of Environmental Health and Housing at South Hams District Council, whose staff filled 900 sand bags with eight tonnes of sand to keep the flood water at bay.
Discussions are underway to hold flood recovery surgeries in the affected areas. Details of these events will be announced once dates, venues and times have been agreed.
The Environment Agency updates its flood guidance every 15 minutes on its website at http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/31618.aspx, and you can follow the Environment Agency on Twitter at @EnvAgencySW
Met Office weather forecasts and warnings can be found at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/ and you can follow the Met Office on Twitter at @metoffice and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/metoffice
Our Floodline service is on 0845 9881188