Last week, I went to the Old Windsor Hub to hear from the experts how they were dealing with the high water levels.
“We’re not victims of this,” said Parish Council Chair, Jane Dawson. “We’ve been in control from the very beginning. We were out on the ground with the whole sandbag distribution with the guys in the bright yellow jackets.”
The Parish Council shared their knowledge of Old Windsor’s 5000 residents with local volunteers, RAF Honington, and the Fire Brigade, who all came to help when the flood rose in unexpected places.
“Meadow Way and Saxon Way have a ground water issue,” said Jane. “There’s a cold lake behind the houses because that used to be a flood lane. And between the bottom of Church Road and Ham Island, groundwater started to pour in and made a small lake.”
Jane turned to Flood Marshall, Toby Ellis.
“When did the Fire Brigade finish pumping, Toby?” she asked.
“6pm Sunday night,” he said. “It was the equivalent of five Olympic size swimming pools, or 22 ½ million standard EU grapefruits.”
Toby volunteered at the end of January, then put his feet up and had a cup of tea. Then he got a call about a house in danger of flooding, and since it was worse than expected, sent an email to work asking for time off to perform volunteer duties.
“Since that moment I’ve had nine hours sleep,” he said. “Because this lake was starting to appear at the top end of the village up at Church Lane.“
“They’ve all become flood junkies,” said Jane.
“It’s addictive,” said Toby.
There’s some controversy about whether the Jubilee River, which diverts water from Windsor and Maidenhead, has contributed to flooding in surrounding areas.
“I don’t think the ultimate level that we’ve had here has been significantly affected by the Jubilee River,” said Toby. “Because of the sheer volume of water that we’ve had coming down the river.”
“But there’s as many opinions to the contrary,” said Jane. “They need to be more transparent with the information that they’re giving out… They were doing things like shoving the water down in the middle of the night.”
“Two openings,” said Toby. “One at midnight and one at 3a.m. in the morning.
Without telling anybody. You don’t know it’s coming.”
“Because the channel of communication is at the hub,” said Jane. “This is the Parish Council Hub. It serves the village. And this was the hub. It had its first anniversary at Christmas so the timing was really good.”
The We Love Old Windsor Facebook page got information out to its 1600+ members, while door-to-door visits and the Hub itself catered to residents who don’t use social media.
Now that the flooding is mostly dried up, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead are offering a flood debris removal service for residents not covered by insurance. Details are available from the Hub.