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Experts warn of night-time floods in Purley


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A GOVERNMENT minister was given a tour of Purley-on-Thames today (Tuesday) as the village braces itself for flooding.
The River Thames was originally expected to burst its banks at midnight, but the Environment Agency now say the peak will hit in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Reports from the Environment Agency this evening claim some homes are already beginning to flood as the waters rise in the village.
Residents have been manning the barricades – thousands of sandbags have been delivered to the beleaguered village, and valuable items have been removed from houses.
Reading West MP Martin Salter (Lab) showed the Minister for the South East, Jonathon Shaw, the scale of the crisis facing the village this morning.
Mr Shaw said: “A lot of lessons have been learnt from the past, and this is a real example of British spirit.”
Councillor Tim Metcalfe (Con, Purley-on-Thames), who farms land in Purley, said this morning that water levels had risen seven inches in the last 24 hours – less than previously thought.
“We were expecting slightly more than that,” he said.
“There had been worries that it could be a rate rise of up to an inch and a half per hour, but it's not been near that. It's not as devastating as we feared.”
But properties in River Gardens, Purley, may be flooded by this evening. The lowest lying stretch of road is already flooded with waters still rising.
Christine Collier, who lives in River Gardens, was expecting her garden to be flooded by this evening.
“The river's very high and moving very fast, but it hasn't yet come over the bank,” she said this afternoon.
Like many houses on River Gardens, her home was built with a cellar to withstand water levels up to the level of the 1947 floods.
She said: “Our garden's been flooded before, but it's never come into the house,”
“We've got everything out of the cellar, the summer house and the garage so it should be safe.”
The Environment Agency have been delivering sandbags today and calling homes to offer advice.
The district council has set up an emergency centre at Purley Park Social Club in Wintringham Way and at the Parish Council offices in Goosecroft Lane.
Meanwhile, vulnerable pensioners have moved to relatives' homes in case of flooding.
“The community is very neighbourly down there and everybody is looking after everybody else,” said Mr Metcalfe.
Mr Salter said: “Four years ago the response from West Berkshire Council was lamentable but this time they have handled it very well.
“The response has been run like a military operation.
“Local residents are just waiting for the flood waters to come down stream.”
The minister expressed sympathy to people in Thatcham whose homes were flooded at the weekend, and said that flood risks should be considered when planning new homes.
“We need to balance the need for new homes with the potential problems.
“People have been building on the flood plains since Roman times and we must ensure that it is done with care,” he said.

Don't forget to read the Newbury Weekly News — Berkshire's largest–selling local newspaper — out each Thursday morning.

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