Shrewsbury residents frustrated as floods grow more frequent

Trapped in her home on the banks of the River Severn in Shrewsbury, Siobhan Connor said this was the 17th time she had been flooded in 14 years – and it was only becoming more frequent.

“If you look at all the forecasts, this is going to become an annual or biannual occurrence,” Connor said from her first-floor window, as flood water filled the ground floor up to waist height. “We’ve had four major floods here in two years, and they’re now at record level.”

Residents of Shrewsbury said they were hit by the worst flooding in 20 years this week as they criticised authorities for decades of inaction. After being flooded for three consecutive years, many in the town said they feared the climate crisis was making major flood events more frequent while the government was doing little to help.

“River levels today are close to the 2000 record, and 22 years later what have they done?” said Connor. Forecasters had anticipated that the river level at Welsh Bridge in Shrewsbury could surpass the record 5.25 metres measured in 2000, but at its peak on Tuesday morning it was just under at 5.15 metres.

Despite having installed state-of-the-art flood defences and elevated her home, Connor feared the damage this time round would be extensive. “We’ll have to get in massive industrial dehumidifiers which will probably drain about 10 litres of water a day for at least a month. And we all know energy bills are going up in a couple of months. There’s so little government support, it’s expensive,” she said.

Sandbags outside a property in Shrewsbury
Sandbags outside a property in Shrewsbury. Photograph: Andrew Fox/The Guardian

She said it was a combination of housebuilding on floodplains and climate change that were pushing water levels ever higher, and felt action by the Environment Agency was ineffective. “There’s ways of mitigating flooding that could have been done with the right planning years ago. There’s nothing now we didn’t already know 20 years ago,” she said.

Down the road, Louise…

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