Update: Floods hit central Oxford

Update: 20:00, 9th January

As students trickle back into Oxford, returning from lazy holidays and mince-pie hangovers, much of Oxford remains underwater. Students can help forget their collections fear by a truly maritime view of Oxford. Parts of Christ Church meadow remain closed, whilst Magdalen’s meadow and the adjacent Angel & Greyhound meadow are still underwater. Many sports grounds, including University College’s are also still flooded.

Secretary of State for the Environment Owen Patterson told the Oxford Mail yesterday that a relative lack of damage due to flooding is a result of government policy:

“We have protected millions of properties around the country over Christmas and New Year and that’s why this Government is determined to spend more than any previous Government in this spending round on this issue.”

Patterson recently caused much controversy when he suggested that ancient woodlands “could be bulldozed for housing”.

Attempts to establish the flooded car park at Iffley Road sports ground as an open air swimming pool were apparently unsuccessful: 

The Abingdon Road area is still submerged under various feet of water:

These flood barriers are apparently “not as flimsy as they look”:

One student plans to be particularly “rebellious” if waters do not subside before her return:

Plans for aquatic tourist tours of central Oxford, as well as proposals to build an Oxford Docks remain unconfirmed. 

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Update: 13:10, 8th January

Abingdon Road, parts of Magdalen, and Christ Church meadow remain closed off this morning, due to floods described as “the worst in two decades.”

Other flooded areas include the University Parks, and the sports grounds of most colleges.

The Environment Agency has said that Iffley Lock is at its highest ever level at 3.6m, above the 3.58m reading on December 27, 2012.

Oxford City Council has opened the High Street to traffic, which has now come to a standstill.

Earlier, the County Council said that it has now given out over 3,000 sandbags.

Nicola Blackwood, Oxford West MP has tweeted her support for victims of flooding. Andrew Smith, MP for East Oxford, has been visiting residents in Western Road.

Oxonians have been tweeting photos of the floods.

The award for worst pun of the year so far goes to Blackwell Books.

Yesterday afternoon, St Catz’s Library shared this picture.

Kellogg College, located just next to the University Parks, took this photo.

Oxford’s sportspeople have also been affected, with sports fields and boathouses flooded.

The Environment Agency’s forecasts suggest that the SSL is at risk of flooding, as this map shows.

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The floods come after several weeks of heavy rain across the UK. The Environment Agency has been issuing flood warnings for the river Cherwell since 28th December, and for the Isis since 23rd December; both had burst their banks by New Year.

There are currently over 100 flood warnings across the UK. The Met Office has extended its severe weather alert until Thursday morning, and the Environment Agency has said flood levels in Oxford are expected to peak tomorrow.

In a statement, the City Council said, “Several key routes into the city are closed or affected by flooding, so please consider using public transport if travelling in and around Oxford to help ease traffic congestion in the city.”

Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, was in Oxford for a conference today. Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, told the Oxford Mail that she has spoken to him about the floods in the Thames Valley.

She said, “I join the Secretary of State in paying tribute to the Environment Agency and the emergency services for their tireless work over the Christmas period. However, Despite their ever-increasing water bills, my constituents are again facing foul water flooding from sewers that simply cannot cope with flooding.

“What is he doing to put pressure on water companies to be more prepared for flood events and to ensure that we prevent these very distressing incidents from recurring?”

Oxford’s flood defences have been criticised as inadequate, with the Oxford Flood Alliance frequently calling for better preparation.

Tweet your photos or any breaking news about the floods to @Cherwell_Online