Counting the costs of Stratford’s floods

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John Shurie, Stratford Cricket Club's commercial director and head groundsman Brian Webb

Devastating floods have left businesses and sports clubs counting the cost of repairs this week as the clean-up operation in Stratford continues.

Huge overnight downpours overnight last Tuesday trigger a series of flood warnings and alerts across the region, whilst morning commuters were met with chaos on the roads.

The River Avon was badly affected with those close by suffering the brunt of the damage and disruption.

For Stratford Cricket Club there is a race against time to make the ground fit for purpose in time for the start of the cricket season on 30th April.

Steve Cootes, chairman of Stratford Cricket Club, said: “Obviously we have been hit quite hard by the flooding. The concern for us is the silt that has been brought up because it can be toxic and contain heavy metals so we are planning to get soil samples tested.

“We may potentially have to remove the top couple of inches of soil from the square and the outfield, which would be bad because it would affect how it plays.

“We have lost about £400-500 worth of grass supplies as well. A big concern for us is if we will be ready in time for the start of the cricket season on 30th April and the friendly we are hosting a week before, the timing of this flooding has been the most surprising thing, when this has happened before it has been in the winter. We are looking at the possibility of applying for funding, probably from the ECB, to repair the damage. It is difficult to say the cost of the damage at the moment, but I would think it is fair to say it is likely to be thousands.

“Since the previous floods struck, our head groundsman Brian Webb has worked so hard on the pitch and it is such a blow that this flooding has undermined his huge efforts.”

The flooding has already had an impact at another sporting venue in Stratford, with the racecourse quickly making the decision to cancel its race meeting this week.

Ilona Barnett, racecourse manager said: “We’ve had flooding before but we’ve never known it to happen after six hours of rain, it was just so quick.

“After we flooded in 2007 we made efforts to waterproof the buildings as much as we could. We raised the plug sockets to above the water level, put in resin floors instead of carpets and put in plastic doors so we could wash them down.

“We were meant to race today (Monday) but we made the decision last Thursday to cancel it. We evacuated the buildings on Wednesday morning and carried out a 2nd stage of evacuation later on in the day, where we removed all the kitchen equipment to higher grounds. We managed to do it all just in time because the floodwater was chasing us out of the gate.”

Ilona said the cost of the flooding to the racecourse would be ‘thousands’ but a team of 30 was working hard to get the course up and running in time for its Easter Saturday race on 26th March.

Elsewhere the water has also led to the closure of the district council run children’s play area on the Recreation Ground which was submerged by the rising water.

The facility will remain closed until 21st March as the sand in the sandpit is replaced and all the equipment is thoroughly disinfected and inspected.

The nearby toilet block was also flooded and is currently closed while cleaning work takes place.

It is thought the cost of bringing the play area and toilets back into use could be around £5000-6000.

When the Avon burst its banks on Wednesday floodwaters inundated the Riverside, Avon and Rayford caravan parks.

Nicky Powell, company secretary at Stratford Caravans, which runs all three sites, said: “We evacuated the sites on Wednesday afternoon in anticipation of the river bursting its banks, which it did. There were no customers on the sites when they flooded.

“The waters have now receded but they have left a lot of silt and the lads have been working hard to make sure the parks are clean and safe. They have all now been re-opened.”