Environment Agency staff were out in foce today for the latest phase of the post-flood clean-up in East Devon where more than 600 tonnes of stone, sand and gravel was washed into local rivers during recent flash floods.
Using an excavator and lorries, Agency crews have already removed approximately 200 tonnes of material from the river at Sidbury and Sidford. They have now turned their attention to Waterloo Bridge at Sidmouth where around 400 tonnes of shingle and gravel have been deposited below the weir close to a public park known as The Byes.
More than 20 properties were flooded in the Sid Valley over the weekend of July 6-7 that saw flash floods across much of the UK. East Devon was badly hit with homes and businesses inundated with floodwater. Among the worst hit was Axminster where flood waters rose to a depth of 4ft.
Record rainfall figures were recorded in some locations including Wilmington where 125mm fell in 24 hours – the highest for more than 100 years. The average July rainfall for this part of Devon is normally 50 – 60mm
Ottery St Mary escaped serious property flooding thanks to improved flood defences in the town. However, several roads were flooded by surface water and this did cause some disruption.
The sheer volume of water flowing off surrounding roads and land washed hundreds of tonnes of gravel, sand and stone into local rivers. It is this muddy legacy the Environment Agency is now dealing with. If left, the material could impede river flows and increase the risk of further flooding
Agency crews are steadily working their way down the valley focussing on worst affected areas and removing recently deposited material as they go. They now face their biggest challenge at the weir near Waterloo Bridge, Sidmouth where it is expected to take around a week to clear-out to remaining 400 tonnes of gravel and stone.
Wherever possible the recovered material will be re-cycled and supplied to local landowners to repair farm tracks. Any remaining stone and gravel will be sent for re-processing. The clear-up works in East Devon are likely to continue into September 2012.
‘You wouldn’t normally expect this amount of material to be washed down the Sid Valley in such a short period of time. It is important these deposits are removed because they reduce the river’s capacity and can increase the risk of flooding,’ said Andrew Woodhead for the Environment Agency.
Photos of the post-flood clean-up in the Sid Valley are available from the Environment Agency regional press office on 01392 442008.