Householders and businesses in Bradford on Avon are counting the cost of this week’s floods as the clean up operation begins and damage is assessed.
The Environmental Agency lifted the town’s flood warning, which had been in place for five days, on Tuesday, after the river peaked at 28.5 metres – just half a metre short of the 29 metre level that caused widespread damage 10 years ago.
The waters began to rise on Thursday and the town went on high alert as the arches under the bridge over the River Avon began to slowly disappear as the levels rose.
The Swan Hotel’s basement flooded on Thursday, the town’s fire service in pumping out the water.
But the rain returned and efforts were put on hold.
James Sullivan-Tailyour, who has managed the hotel since February, was surprised at how high the river rose.
He said: “This is going to be a major clean up operation and will cost a lot of money.
“But it’s business as usual and none of my bookings have been affected.”
While pumping out the Swan Hotel, Bradford on Avon fire crews helped out CS Bowyer Funeral Directors when they witnessed a hearse unable to reach the premises.
Three firefighters helped funeral director Paul McDonald manoeuvre the coffin over the knee high water and through an alleyway to the hearse waiting in Church Street.
Crew manager Steve Otterwell said: “It’s not something we had done before, but the important thing was making sure the funeral could go ahead on time.”
The rowing club was submerged for several days and the force of the water damaged one boat as they had not been secured.
When the river dropped briefly, they were stored on higher ground.
Members cleaned up the premises on Tuesday using a power hose and disinfectant.
The club does not anticipate that members will be able to go out rowing until water levels have returned to normal.
Club captain Andy Taylor said: “We are usually quite savvy about the river levels but we were caught out a little this time as the level rose so quickly overnight.”
Despite a fall in the water level on Tuesday water forced its way up in Coppice Hill, creating havoc in The Shamble’s basements.
The Grumpy Badger pub managed to pump the water away but some stock was lost.
At the Tillions store water was cleared up with dustpans and towels in time for the switching on of the Christmas lights and late night shopping.
An email was sent advising householders to ring Wiltshire Council for sandbags but warned that there was a limited supply available because of flooding across the rest of the county.
Chamber of Commerce chairman Tim Burnham, said: “Although there was uncertainty about the bridge being open, I think the town was well prepared.
“We were very lucky that it did not get any worse.”
David Gregory, who used to own The Scribbling Horse (now The Teapot), and has kept records of the river levels for the last 20 years said that in 2000, levels reached 29 metres.
His business was flooded and was closed for 12 weeks.
“I think the river authorities have control over this because the levels seem to reach a certain height before decreasing and did not causing as much harm as it did 10 years ago,” he said.