School evacuated as flooding hits county

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The wall at Freshford washed away by today's flood water The wall at Freshford washed away by today's flood water

Freshford Primary School fell victim to the torrential rain across Wiltshire today, after flooding resulted in the school being forced to close early at 12.15pm.

Both the school and its car park flooded throughout the morning and teaching staff, who were forced to rescue their cars, took the decision to evacuate the building and send pupils home early.

Earlier in the day, a high wall opposite the school, near Bradford on Avon, had also collapsed, with debris blocking the paths and falling on an empty nearby car.

Parent Craig Cameron, who came across the damaged wall when he dropped his children off at the school at 8.50am, said builders arrived to clear up the debris and cordon off the dangerous area at 9am.

Mr Cameron, also a builder, said: “The overnight rain must have caused the wall to collapse and I was surprised to see the damage this morning when I dropped off my children off at the school.

“It looks very dangerous as the mortar at the top of the wall is still intact and you certainly would feel that if it fell on your head.

“The rest of the wall is also vulnerable to collapse in its current state, but the trouble is working on it at the moment is also very dangerous.”

Mr Cameron added that the school had to remove part of the fence around the school to get the children out safely, as the flooding by the front gates was around 18 inches deep.

Several roads are badly affected by surface water flooding – in particular, the A361 between Semington and Trowbridge is closed and a number of cars have already become stranded.

Road closures are there for a reason, and drivers are asked to observe them. Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service has received over 60 calls to flooding throughout the county.

At 2pm, the fire service had 10 fire crews and two special appliances dealing with incidents involving homes, businesses and stranded cars, as well as six officers conducting inspections to prioritise attendance.

The Environment Agency has issued a flood warning for parts of Trowbridge around the Paxcroft Brook and Lambrok Stream.

Other areas at risk are Melksham, Holt, Malmesbury, Box, Sutton Benger and parts of the north west of the county.

Area manager Julian Parsons said: “While we are very busy attending numerous incidents, we are still able to maintain an adequate level of fire cover and we ask that the public only contact us if life or property is in danger.

"If you do contact us, we may not automatically send a fire crew as we can only help in certain situations.

"There has to be a certain level of water before we can pump water away, and we have to be able to pump it somewhere without it having a detrimental effect elsewhere.”

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