08:00 Wednesday 28 November 2012

SLIDESHOW: Town demands answers after a second day of A38 flooding hell

Written byADRIAN JENKINS

AN inquest has opened into Burton’s floods after they closed the A38 for the second day running, swamping the town with thousands of extra cars.

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths said he had written to Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Staffordshire County Council chief executive Nick Bell to see if more could be done to prevent a recurrence.

He said: “We need to re-assess the situation and make sure we are doing all we can to prevent not only the inconvenience of roads being closed but also the devastation of homes being flooded.” As motorists endured another nightmarish day on the roads, residents breathed a sigh of relief after flood defences held out to protect 7,300 Burton homes.

The Environment Agency said river levels were subsiding only to warn of a new danger amid predictions of plummeting temperatures — ice.

‘We’ve been lucky, but we’re right on the brink…’

BURTON’S MP has demanded answers after flooding closed the A38 for the second day running, clogging the town’s roads with thousands of extra cars.

Andrew Griffiths’ move emerged after commuters faced another nightmarish journey to work as they were forced to sit in lengthy tailbacks on alternative routes including the A511 and A444.

The Tory said: “I’ve written both to Staffordshire County Council chief executive Nick Bell and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to ascertain whether there’s more we can do to prevent these kind of regular floods we suddenly appear to be having.

“We’ve been relatively lucky in East Staffordshire, but it would not take much more rain to turn this into a very serious situation.

“We need to re-assess the situation and make sure we are doing all we can to prevent not only the inconvenience of roads being closed, but also the devastation of homes being flooded.”

Mr Griffiths’ call came after Staffordshire Police warned motorists to avoid the A38 near Burton ‘unless travel was absolutely necessary’.

Crews from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service were using high-volume pumps to move water from the northbound carriageway of the A38 into Branston Water Park in a bid to clear the road before rush hour.

Graham Smith, data manager with Trafficmaster, said: “Hundreds or thousands of extra vehicles have been travelling through Burton to try to find their way around the problem.”

Among them were drivers snarled in a seven-mile jam between Hatton and Burton on the A511, and another queue of at least five miles between the town and Castle Gresley on the A444.

Derbyshire Police erected more road closure signs on the A5132 at Willington after drivers ignored them.

A spokesman said: “We would ask people to take a common sense approach and not drive through roads that are closed for their own safety and that of those who have to rescue them.”

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service rescued two children and a woman after their car became stuck in floods in Ingleby Road, Stanton by Bridge, at 5.08pm on Monday.

They also rescued another woman whose vehicle was stranded.

But not every motorist was delayed by the floods.

James Michaels, from Fradley, was stuck in queues on the B5017 towards Henhurst Hill after being unable to take his usual route to work in Burton via the A38.

He said: “It was only when I got to Henhurst Hill that I realised there were three-way temporary traffic lights in operation.

“As soon as I got through it was clear all the way, so it is frustrating to hear those lights should have been removed.”

Bus operator Midland Classic said all services between Burton and Lichfield would be cancelled until the A38 was clear.

It said services would run between Burton and Branston, including Anglesey Road, as scheduled, but all others would be ‘subject to severe delays as traffic in Burton would be horrendous’.

Arriva Midlands’ 7/7A service from Burton to Lichfield operated via Tatenhill to avoid the A38 closure.

Service 8 from Burton to Ashby was delayed around the A444 and the X38 Burton to Derby service diverted northbound via the A50 due to the closure of the A38 northbound.

Delays also affected services 9, 9A, 29 and 29A linking Burton with Coalville and Leicester.

Hero volunteers save the lives of sick cat and her canine chum

A RESCUE operation was launched to salvage a seriously ill cat and its canine companion from a flooded property in South Derbyshire.

Sandra Noon, who lives in a former waterworks near the River Trent in Meadow Lane, Milton, was unable to return home after the property became an ‘island’ amid rising flood waters.

A desperate series of phone calls failed to secure the assistance Miss Noon needed to rescue her cat, Coco, who needs medication twice a day due to a serious heart condition.

But help finally came in the form of a rescue team of volunteers from the Watersafe UK search and rescue team, who, along with inspectors from the RSPCA, towed the frantic animal lover to her home, from where she was able to rescue Coco and cross-breed dog Little Bo.

Miss Noon told the Mail: “I couldn’t get home on Sunday night so had to stay elsewhere. I tried to get back by wading down the road, which by now had just become part of the river, but the current was too strong.

“I rang everyone I could think of, including the police, fire service and anyone I knew with a vehicle, but no-one could help.

“I was at my wit’s end and was prepared to run the gauntlet myself and wade back there, because I didn’t want to just leave them there, then luckily I managed to get help from the team from Watersafe UK.

“They arrived at the top of Meadow Lane and put on wetsuits, blew up a dinghy, put a lifejacket and hard hat on me and towed me and the inspector from the RSPCA through the water to my house.

“I got into the house, which luckily wasn’t flooded as it stands on a mound, got my cat and dog and they came back with me in the dinghy.

“The cat had gone 24 hours without his medication, which he is supposed to take twice a day, and they were both stressed as they’d gone without food, but they are both okay.

“The team from Watersafe UK were absolutely amazing. I had never even heard of them before and they are all volunteers, but they were totally professional and I had every faith in them.

“I think people should be aware of the fantastic work they do.”

More information about Watersafe UK is available online at www.wuksart.org

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