RESIDENTS and traders breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after Oxford’s Botley Road reopened to traffic.
The busy road into the city had been closed to vehicles since Wednesday because of flooding, leaving pedestrians with a rare opportunity to avoid getting wet by walking in the middle of the road.
Businesses said their takings were down over the past week and they were pleased customers would now be returning after county council officials reopened the road shortly before noon.
Tom O’Hare, store manager of furniture store Multiyork, said: “We’re delighted the road is open again as it’s been a disaster.
“We did very little business last week because people were not able to get to us.
“Hopefully business will pick up now the road has cleared.”
Oxford Wine Company manager Aljoscha Wright said: “We’re just so relieved as it was such a slow week.
“I just hope we haven’t lost any customers who may have gone elsewhere.”
Lee Isaacs, manager of the shop, estimated that last week they made about 10 per cent of their usual £10,000 takings.
Residents were equally relieved at the reopening of the route.
Naz Hussain, 33, said: “I’m pleased that things will get back to normal, as it’s been difficult getting in and out.”
Mr Hussain, owner of Kebab Kid in St Clement’s, added: “The flooding has affected the business because people have not been able to get into Oxford as easily.”
American student Audra Nakas only moved to the Botley Road on Wednesday.
She said: “I am so pleased that everything is back up and running again.”
Ms Nakas, 20, from Washington DC, who is studying politics at Christ Church college, said: “It was very hectic when I first moved in on Wednesday and I thought ‘this is going to be an adventure’.”
Patricia Puttock, 77, who lives in Bullstake Close, said: “It was a hard time but all the residents pulled together.”
Mrs Puttock, who used to run the Oxford United club shop at the Manor Ground, said: “I live with my daughter Teresa and we decided not to evacuate when we were asked if we wanted to leave on Wednesday.”
Fellow resident Colin Howes, 75, said: “I am very relieved that the water levels have improved. It does bring people together, as everybody helps one another. I’ve been sitting on garden chairs in my living room, but I may start bringing some of the furniture back downstairs again.”
Some residents are still suffering from the aftermath of the flooding.
Flood water caused a power cut in Binsey Lane with some homes suffering intermittent power failures.
Amanda Jacobs, 36, said: “I lost power for about seven hours on Friday night.
“The flooding doesn’t make things easy – I’ve certainly had better weeks.”
Casey Small, 30, who runs an events company, had no power for 24 hours on Thursday .
Mr Small, who lives in a flat in Binsey Lane, said: “I’ve not been flooded, but two people on the ground floor were unfortunately flooded because the power went down and so the pumps stopped working.”
Swollen river may keep area cut off for a week
MORE water flowing into the Thames could keep Abingdon Road in Oxford shut for the rest of the week, warned county council leader Ian Hudspeth last night.
Conservative leader Mr Hudspeth said: “It looks like it is receding, but there is an awful lot of water upstream in the Glyme, Evenlode and Ray that has got to come down.
“The ground is saturated and there is nowhere for water to go to. If there is more rain that will add to it. We will be working to reopen Abingdon Road as quickly as possible but we have got to make sure it is safe.
“If the weather holds up we would hope to open it by the end of the week.”
The cost of rehousing people during the floods, clearing up, repairing roads and paying staff to work 24-hours a day would be “substantial” he warned.
He said: “We have been distributing sandbags and had teams working 24 hours a day for the past week doing clear-up.
“We will have additional staff out for additional clear-up operations so we can’t say what the cost is to the county until it is all done.”
He estimated that the county council would spend thousands of pounds on the clean-up operation but could not give a precise figure.
Mr Hudspeth said the solution to flooding on Botley and Abingdon roads would be increasing capacity on the River Thames at Sandford-on-Thames, downstream from Oxford.
He added: “If we can increase the flow upstream the initial key to it seems to be Sandford-on-Thames lock, improving the capacity there.
“If we persuade district councils and the Environment Agency we could perhaps raise £3m and do something quick.”
Sarah Fenton, who lives in Grandpont, off Abingdon Road, said: “It’s still pretty deep on the Abingdon Road and has got within six inches of the back of people’s houses.”
Ms Fenton, who lived in Botley Road during the 2007 floods, added: “I think they have done a good job to improve the situation on the Botley Road this time round.”
Neysa Gutierrez, manager of the White House on Abingdon Road, said: “We’ve lost a lot of business with people not being able to drive up here. The whole cellar in the basement is flooded so we are pumping water out. We’ve lost thousands of pounds this week.”
Steven Sanderson, landlord of the Chequers pub in Abingdon Road, added: “We normally aim to make about £10,000 in a week and we have made about £5,000.
“Everyone is nervous about coming out because of the flooding.”