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Floodwater claims village of Braunton

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 27, 2012

UNDER WATER: Caen Street, Braunton. Below, scenes from around the village. Pic: Paula Davies. Ref: BNPD20121222E-012_C

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BRAUNTON experienced the worst flooding the village has seen in decades this weekend with properties being flooded twice and some areas being submerged by four feet of water leaving devastation in the lead up to Christmas.

Emergency services arrived on the scene in the early hours of Saturday to tackle the severe flooding including numerous fire crews, coastguard teams and police.

The Environment Agency confirmed 66mm of water had fallen in a matter of hours on Friday night which was the highest amount since records began in the 1950s.

The flood water filled Caen Street with a torrent gushing down South Street until mid-morning.

The fire service then started pumping the water out and back into the River Caen at Velator using a specialist pump from Exeter which can pump 20,000 litres of water a minute.

PC Chris Tucker was one of the first members of the police on the scene in the early hours of Saturday. He said: "I got here about 6am as we noticed the floods while driving around on the night shift.

"We have had several officers here and the police helicopter is hovering over the river to keep checking the water levels, we were most concerned about the high tide at lunchtime."

Power cables were affected and several teams from Western Power Distribution were on the scene to reconnect the power supply.

Braunton parish councillor Jasmin Chesters received an alert from the Environment Agency and was in the centre of the village at 4.45am.

She said: "This is the worst I have ever seen it. All the businesses in Caen Street have been flooded. We have just had so much rain I don't think any flood defences could have protected us from this.

"Everyone in the village has been great, a real community effort with everyone helping each other out and getting sandbags to people."

As well the centre of Braunton being affected the main roads leading onto the village also became blocked meaning the area was virtually cut off for several hours.

On Saturday night three coastguard teams from Ilfracombe, Lynmouth and Combe Martin were handing out sandbags in all areas of Braunton while five fire service pumping appliances were deployed near to Braunton School where an evacuation centre had been set up.

Neil Blackburn, the fire service's group commander, said that the centre had not seen many people because many people whose homes had been flooded were taken in by their neighbours.

The A361 in and out of Braunton did not fully reopen until Sunday.

Paul Gainey, from The Environment Agency, said that the cause of the flooding in the village will be investigated once the clear up operation has been completed.

Concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of the village's flood defences which were only completed in the summer.

Mr Gainey said: "We can never guarantee people won't be flooded when we install flood defences, we can only alleviate the chances.

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