Flood-hit city 'could take 10 days to pump out'

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The Independent Online
THE OPERATION to pump out water from flood-hit Chichester in West Sussex is expected to continue for at least 10 days, emergency planners said.

Pumping operations were stopped for a brief period yesterday morning to see what the effect would be - but the water level rose again. The flooding has already led to millions of gallons of water being pumped out from the city centre.

Army engineers worked through Monday night to open pontoon bridges for traffic across the A259 and A27. The level of the nearby river Lavant was reported to have dropped by between 7in and 8in.

The dam holding the river back at its most vulnerable point at The Hornet in the east of the city was declared 'safe and secure'.

John Williams, emergency planning officer for West Sussex County Council, said his team was now 'quietly optimistic' and emphasised: 'Every day that is fine is a good day.'

However, more rain was forecast for this morning, although initial predictions that it could be as much as an inch have been scaled down to around half an inch. Peter Midgley, of the National Rivers Authority, warned: 'That will still give us problems and the river will rise again.'

Prisoners at nearby Ford Open Prison have been filling sandbags to help combat flooding.

Meanwhile, in Bedfordshire yesterday the river Ivel at Blunham was placed on red flood alert after heavy rain in the area.

Almost 1,000 people in England and Wales who suffered in the floods last June will share a pounds 152,000 European Union grant, the British Red Cross said. The organisation will distribute the money on behalf of the Home Office because of its role in helping victims of natural disaster.

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