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'The worst flooding in over a decade'

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: October 16, 2012

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THE Environment Agency says it will improve defences on the River Lowman following flooding last week which affected residents in Chapel Street and neighbouring businesses.

The river was around 5ft higher than its normal level following heavy downpours onThursday.

The agency issued a flood warning for the immediate area and it also received several reports that trees and other debris were spotted in the river, which will be removed in conjunction with other organisations, once it is safe to do so.

Shortly after 3pm, the river burst its banks, leaving Lowman Green several feet underwater.

At its height, the river was close to breaching the flood wall at Chapel Street and it was only a few inches from lapping over the bridge at Lowman Green.

Residents in Chapel Street came together to distribute sandbags and help protect neighbours' homes.

The worst flooding for a decade saw water almost nearly enter the Inn on the Green pub, and Swinton Insurance on the opposite of the road.

The pub was previously flooded in December 2000, when it was then known as the Prince Regent, but it did not suffer any damage on this ocassion.

When Tesco opened its superstore in Tiverton in Blundell's Road, the Environment Agency insisted the plan should include flood prevention measures on the River Lowman.

Now, the agency says plans are taking shape to upgrade the flood defences.

A spokesman acknowledged the agency had not dredged the river this year and added: "The Environment Agency plan to dredge the area annually but weather conditions have delayed the work this year.

"We hope to get on with this work as soon as river levels drop."

In addition to the routine dredging, he said the agency was "currently developing some improvements to the defences on the Lowman."

According to the EA flood gauges, the river peaked at 2.06m, a foot or so under the record for that location.

Dave Broom, a sales executive from Swinton Insurance, said he and a colleague had a good view of the rising water.

He said: "The water was up to the number plate on my car when I left the office. We shut early, not because we were worried about the premises flooding, because we were protected by a wall but with water right across the road, we were worried about problems getting out safely.

"I've only been working here since the beginning of the year, but my colleague has been here six years and said she had never seen anything like it."

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service said it had received more than 90 weather-related calls during the course of Thursday. These included more than 20 calls to vehicles in water, 29 calls involving domestic flooding and one horse rescue.

Elsewhere in the district, disruption was caused for train passengers in Crediton.

Flooding on the line between Crediton and Barnstaple on Thursday caused First Great Western to suspend services.

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