Photo gallery: 500 evacuated from supermarket - with some customers wheeled on trolleys to their cars- as floods wreak havoc in Fenland town
- Credit: Archant
Staff wheeled customers from a supermarket today as sudden floods wrecked havoc across a Fenland town.
Five hundred shoppers had to be evacuated from Tesco, part of a riverbank collapsed and many roads flooded within minutes of torrential rain hitting March.
At about 2pm, Tesco was forced to take the 'unprecedented' decision to evacuate its Hostmoor Avenue store, which had 500 shoppers inside.
In some instances, staff wheeled customers on trolleys to their cars.
Cambs Fire Service says they have had more than 30 flooding related calls since 12.30pm.
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Mark Steele, Tesco store manager, said: 'Something like this is unprecedented. At about 2pm we had no choice but to close the store. We could not stay open with a foot of water outside the shop.
'The drainage company is on its way and we will continue to monitor the situation.
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'I would like to thank all our customers for being fantastic when we asked them to leave. Our staff was fantastic as well, helping customers to their cars. They even took some of them in trolleys. Thankfully there has been no damage inside the shop.'
Passers-by looked on astounded as a sizeable chunk of March riverbank collapsed into the river.
Passer-by Susan Davy said: 'I was walking the dog and it did not want to go any further. The bank had just washed away. I've never seen anything like it.'
The mayor of March Councillor Kit Owen added: 'I went in The Ship an hour ago to shelter from the rain when suddenly we realised the bank had collapsed.
'At first we thought it was just a narrow bit at the top but when we had a look we saw quite a bit of it was down the bottom so we thought we should let somebody know.'
Cambridgeshire highways engineers and Fenland District Council's Street Scene have been despatched to the bank to manage the situation. People have been warned to stay clear of the site.
Houses all over the town have been affected by the floods. On Dartford Road, people were frantically trying to pump water, which in some instances was six to eight inches high, from their gardens.
There have also been reports of flooding on Alpha Street, Gresley Way, Boundary Drive and Green Street, to name but a few.
Even the police station has been caught up in the flooding, with a fire crew pumping water out of its basement.
A Cambs fire spokesman said: 'We have had more than 30 calls for flooding related incidents since 12.30pm. Our main concern is Alpha Street, which is where most of our resources are heading.
'We can only pump out water when it is six inches deep or above. If residents are concerned they should turn off the electrics and, if possible, head upstairs.
'We will not be able to attend every call. We can only do so when the water is six inches or above or there is an immediate risk to life.'
On social media sites residents of March spoke of the speed at which their streets and garden were flooded.
'My back garden is flooded, the kitchen window is leaking because the gutter can't cope and the conservatory has four leaks,' wrote one woman. She added: 'My dog, too, is scared.'
Another woman said: 'I've run out of tea towels – I need sandbags.'
And a man said the water was moving fast through his neighbour's back door 'and is now going into their kitchen'.
Businessman Paul Bryan said the flooding wasn't confined to March – the village of Doddington nearby caught it to.
'There has been extreme hail and rain,' he said. 'We have had water in the house this afternoon. Cars and vehicles in general are having difficulty getting through the streets due to the mass of water.
'There's wave after wave of water crashing into people's houses as the traffic goes through.'
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