Tewkesbury Flood in July 2007

Tewkesbury is situated in Gloucestershire, see Figure 10, and was the worst affected part of the county when the floods hit in July 2007. It was widely reported in the media, particularly images of the Abbey which became surrounded by flood water, see Figure 11.
Physical Causes 

· Tewkesbury is vulnerable to flood events due to its geographical location with two sizeable rivers, the Severn and the Avon, meeting in the town which both overflowed their banks (Royal Geographical Society, n.d.).

· The summer of 2007 in England and Wales was the wettest since records began in 1766 due to a low pressure system over the UK, with an extreme event on July 20th, see Figure 12. 

 
Figure 11: Tewkesbury Abbey during the floods (Daniel Berehulak cited in the Guardian, 2007)
 

Figure 12: Rainfall intensity at 12:00 UTC on 20th July 2007 (Prior and Beswick, 2008)


 

Social Effects
· 13 people lost their lives and hundreds had to be evacuated

· Significant damage to most properties in the area (Figure 13) with nearly 50,000 homes affected, with people losing treasured, personal belongings and made homeless- staying with friends or relatives and 850 families had to stay in caravans, some up to Christmas 2008.
(Royal Geographical Society, n.d; Gardner, 2008.).

· Infrastructure severely affected, with roads cut off and badly damaged.

· On 22nd May water treatment works shut down. The media reporting’s of imminent loss of supplies, meant usage doubled and led to water depletion. By 24th July, 140,000 properties in Gloucestershire had no water supply. Alternative water supplies by bottles, bowsers and tankers had to be used, see Figure 14. Water supplies were not fully restored until the 1st August (Severn Trent Water, 2007)

· 50,000 properties without power for 48 hours (Stuart-Menteth, 2007)
 
 
 
Figure 15: Flooded shops in Tewkesbury (BBC, 2007b) 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
            Figure 10: Location of Tewkesbury  (BBC, 2007a) 


· Little sunshine meant evaporation rates were low, which when combined with intense rainfall led to extreme flooding. 

· The jet stream was located further south than usual since early June of 2007, with a train of waves from the North Pacific to Europe and a trough occurring near to the UK. This led to Atlantic weather systems being ‘steered towards the UK’ which were slow moving meaning prolonged rainfall events. In addition the trough near the UK caused air to move from a more southerly track than is expected, leading to air carrying more moisture due to it passing over warm seas 

(Blackburn et al., 2007 cited in Stuart-Menteth, 2007, p.8 ). 

· The flooding of southern and central England on July 20th was a result of a low pressure system located over Calais in the morning which slowly moved Northwest bringing warm, continental air. This, when meeting the cooler air to the North, created an area of instability ideal for storm generation. 

· Soils were already saturated due to the heavy rainfall occurring in the months leading up to the flooding. This meant water could not infiltrate into the ground, causing overland flow and intensifying the floods. 

(Stuart-Menteth, 2007) 
 

Human Causes 

· Building on floodplains 

· No flood defences in Tewkesbury (Environment Agency, 2010).



Figure 13: Cottage in Tewkesbury showing the high flood levels (Cormack cited in BBC, 2007b)


Figure 14: Bowsers providing water for local residents (BBC, 2007c)

 

 

 
Economic Impacts 

· Flooding cost local councils £140 million 

· Total cost to UK economy estimated to be £3.2 billion 

(Royal Geographical Society, n.d.). 

· 9,000 businesses affected (Figure 15) 

· More than 180,000 insurance claims 

(BBC, 2008) 

Agriculture sector severely affected and where floodwater contained sewage crops had to be 
destroyed (Stuart-Menteth, 2007)



Comments