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Volunteers praised as villages fight back against flooding

First Lane in Whitley was impassable during floods last month. Photo by Thelma Couzens

First Lane in Whitley was impassable during floods last month. Photo by Thelma Couzens

A FLOOD plan in villages near Melksham went off without a hitch during Storm Angus last month, the local council says, after new measures were put in place following devastating floods two years ago.

Local roads were under water during heavy rain on Monday 21st November, but flooding did not get into any homes, and roads drained in a matter of hours, says Melksham Without Parish Council.

An emergency plan was set up in 2014 after storms flooded 14 homes in Shaw and Whitley. The villages have since equipped themselves with flood wardens, a water pump and a safe refuge in Whitley Reading Rooms.

Community emergency volunteers were called into action during bad weather last month and the parish has praised residents for their efforts.

Clerk to Melksham Without Parish Council, Teresa Strange, told Melksham News, “The flood wardens did a fantastic job. This wasn’t a full-blown flood like we had two years ago, but it was an opportunity to see the community plan in action.

“We had people out in the villages throughout the day reporting details of the flooding, and kept people updated with signs and social media.

“You can’t stop flooding; you can only prepare for it. Since the meeting in 2014 we have been keeping ditches and gullies cleared and our wardens make sure drains don’t get blocked.

“The priority is keeping water out of people’s houses and, as far as we know, no homes have been flooded since.

“There was some flooding on the roads but it only lasted for around six hours. If we were to divert water off the road it would likely end up in people’s houses so, though flooded roads are inconvenient, they’re the lesser evil.”

The emergency scheme was set up by Melksham Without and Melksham Town councils, Community Action: Whitley and Shaw, and local residents, and works with Wiltshire Council and the Environment Agency.

It began at a meeting in October 2014 which was attended by around 200 local people demanding action on flood damage.

Teresa continued, “The parish has responded really well since the meeting in 2014, and Wiltshire Council holds it up as a shining example of how communities can protect themselves.”