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Wychwoods care home residents evacuated as due to flooding alert

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A care home was evacuated and residents barricaded their homes with sandbags as wet weather deluged Oxfordshire.

The county has seen 62.8mm of rain since Tuesday and waterways, including the River Evenlode, have burst their banks.

All 33 residents of The Old Prebendal House care home in Shipton-under-Wychwood, some in their 90s, were evacuated on Thursday night.

The Environment Agency said 13 properties – 10 in Bloxham, two in Adderbury and the Mill Arts Centre in Banbury – have flooded in Oxfordshire this week.

It also believed at least two properties in Leafield were flooded.

The weather has also downed 40 trees across the county and the county council has issued 3,500 sandbags and had 70 staff out on Thursday night.

Robert Arkell, 88, was one of those evacuated from The Old Prebendal House and is now staying with his daughter in Milton-under-Wychwood.

He said: “We had very, very heavy rain yesterday afternoon and evening.

“A lot of the carers came back in to help the residents get ready. It was very well handled and it was definitely a good idea to evacuate.”

Charlbury resident Howard Griffiths’ stepmother, Diana Griffiths, was moved to a care home in Witney.

He said: “The staff came and told the residents that they would have to evacuate as a precaution and to pack a few things together.

“My stepmother is a 96-year-old retired RAF officer, so she has a stiff upper lip and is made of strong stuff.”

Oxfordshire County Council’s social services department made the decision following a 6pm meeting on Thursday and began the evacuation at 8pm. It lasted until 10.30pm and minibuses and ambulances were used.

Care home manager Dora Gurnett said: “Our flood defences were up but the problem was if more rain came in and we lost power, so they decided to be proactive rather than reactive.

“It was challenging but social services were spot-on and it was a nice, orderly evacuation to other nursing homes. Our residents are very stoic – they have been through the war.”

The care home, which is expected to reopen on Monday, was forced to close for five months following the 2007 floods. Since then flood defences have been installed and a ditch, known as a swale, was created next to the River Evenlode to hold water during floods.

Care home owner Noel Kelly said: “The swale was installed in the spring and that seems to have worked very well. It has alleviated the water and been a great help.”

Lisa Frost’s Church Street home in Shipton-under-Wychwood sits on the bank of the River Evenlode and flooded in 2007 but has so far escaped the water this time.

The 46-year-old said: “It was really, really heavy rain but it was also very windy and our house was battered on both sides.”

Meanwhile, in Ascott-under-Wychwood, Rupert Haworth-Booth had protected his home with sandbags after the nearby River Evenlode burst its banks.

The 35-year-old said: “On Wednesday the whole road was flooded up to the first step of our house but it receded during the course of the day and last night did not really impact it that much. The forecast is certainly a concern.”

RAF Brize Norton in West Oxfordshire has had 62.8mm (two-and-half-inches) of rain since Tuesday.

Forecasters expect between 20mm and 30mm of rain to fall between 6am today and 6am tomorrow. A further 10mm to 20mm is expected to fall on Monday.

Areas west of Oxfordshire, in the Cardiff and Bristol region, are expected to see up to 40mm of rain on Monday.

Source: Oxford Mail

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