City Council and ODS step up to deal with the floods

City Council and ODS step up to deal with the floods

Last week saw heavy rain resulting in flooding in the city. From the weekend of 30/31 January, water levels rose across Oxfordshire and resulted in five flood warnings and four flood alerts being put in place for the Oxford area putting several areas of the city at risk

For the second time since Christmas, Oxford City Council and ODS immediately activated their emergency flooding plans aimed at preventing wide spread flooding and protecting vulnerable and elderly residents.  

Working in partnership

ODS, together with the Environment Agency, worked tirelessly throughout the week to monitor and manage the situation. ODS took effective action to protect properties and reduce the risk of flooding by installing barriers and sandbags in the worst affected areas, and once they were installed monitored them 24 hours a day. ODS were out and about across Oxford and on call 24/7 to respond to incidents, including pumping out water to clear water from roads, and cleaning up.

The City Council’s Community Response Team and Locality Hub officers were also on the ground, door-knocking in flood-threatened areas to speak to residents and feedback concerns or needs to the central team at ODS, whilst other Council officers phoned those who are shielding. They spoke to vulnerable and elderly residents to ensure they had essential supplies and provided a visible reassuring presence, which was much appreciated by those affected.

Protecting properties

The efforts of the City Council and ODS through both this flooding event and the incident at Christmas saw 2200 sand bags used to protect properties. Altogether, staff dedicated 14 working days and 12 nights to contain the flooding. During both last week and the Christmas incident three pumps were deployed to move 1,320,000 litres of water from affected areas.

Dealing with cold weather

During this time cold weather has also meant that gritting needed to be carried out, with 38 gritting runs so far this year covering 5,382 miles. Over 600 staff hours have resulted in around 450 tonnes of grit has being used which has included gritting Osney Mead and Ferry Road for the key worker test site and the Kassam Stadium for the vaccination centre.

Water levels have now fallen again, though rivers will remain high for some days, so care is needed and towpaths should not be used. But even as the flood waters abate, the temperature is dropping and ODS will be out and about once again gritting roads in the coming week to keep the city safe.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “I want to thank all of the staff at the City Council and ODS who went above and beyond to make sure Oxford’s residents were protected from flooding. Once again they acted swiftly and effectively and showed that they were up to the challenge that the weather threw against us, even during a time of lockdown.

“The additional presence of the Council’s Community Response Team on the ground was a welcome reassurance for many residents and I’m sure many will want to add their thanks to mine.” 

Simon Howick, Managing Director of Oxford Direct Services, said: “We are extremely grateful to our hardworking highways and engineering teams who have worked around the clock to monitor the rivers, install barriers and place sandbags in the most heavily flooded areas to help residents who are most at risk.

“Their commitment to doing good and keeping residents safe during what has been a particularly difficult year is exemplary. In the past three months our team has been able to help and mitigate the issues caused by flooding as well as ice and snow to keep everyone protected and will continue to support the community during these tough situations.”

Footpaths along the city’s waterways were flooded and dangerous, with the edge of paths completely obscured, cross currents and strong flow rates. ODS installed signs across Oxford’s towpaths to warn people of the danger and the City Council used social media to reinforce the message that flooded paths should be avoided.

Whilst the flooded waters are now receding it is important that everyone remain vigilant and continue to avoid remaining flooded river and canal side paths. For more on flood warnings and alerts visit the Flood Information Service