Preparing for the worst in Malmesbury as wind and rain lash Wiltshire

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Flood defences have been set up in St John's, Malmesbury, as a precaution Flood defences have been set up in St John's, Malmesbury, as a precaution

The Warden and Freemen of Malmesbury are preparing for the worst with wet weather forecast for today and tomorrow.

The historic Old Corporation, which is the landlord for some of the historic properties off St John’s Street and St John’s Bridge at risk of flooding, have begun getting numerous gel sacks prepared to avoid a repeat of Christmas Eve when many of the homes were flooded.

“We are preparing for another bout,” said Dave Richards, of the Warden and Freemen today.

“We just have to wait and see what comes.

“The Environment Agency alert for the river was put up on December 18 and it has not been taken off yet, which is a little bit concerning for people.”

Members of the Old Corporation were up until the early hours last Thursday with forecasters warning of heavy rain and this week they have continued to monitor the river levels as the wet weather in the UK persists.

So far, 50 gel sacs, purchased through Malmesbury Town Council, have been prepared in case of a flood warning being issued.

Mr Richards added: “Once we get the warning we have to act very quickly.”

One tenant off St John’s Bridge, who was badly flooding in November 2012, and again on Christmas Eve last year, has moved out of her home and has now given up her tenancy because, according to Mr Richards ‘she had just had enough’.

Pat Ponting, whose home in St John’s Street was damaged badly in November 2012 and again on December 24, knows exactly how she feels.

She slept downstairs on Friday night and was nervously watching the river levels rising.

“I have never known anything like it,” she said.

“It’s depressing when it just keeps raining all the time.

“You do get very worried because you just never know how bad it is going to get.”

Mrs Ponting, who has lived in the house for 43 years and has been flooded three times, assesses the flood risk by how many steps to another property disappear under the water to the rear of her home.

When two or three are under water Mrs Ponting begins to get worried.

She said: “It has been going on since Christmas.

“When it floods the water comes from everywhere and congregates in the archway. All the area to the front is like a little sea.”

Another resident who also had the metal flood gates up at her door, but did not want to be named, praised the work of the Warden and Freeman for helping to protect the properties and residents.

“Some of them were up all night on Thursday watching the river levels,” she said.

“I think they have done a fantastic job so far.

“It’s just unfortunate that the water gets everywhere and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“I haven’t been here long; the flooding doesn’t put me off but if I was flooded year after year I wouldn’t want to hang on.

“I am not always around so my son comes over for me but he has a busy job so he doesn’t always want his mum on the phone asking him to check the cottage in case it has flooded.”

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