Many forecourt retailers have been badly hit by the floods as large areas of the West Midlands and south west spent the weekend under water.
One of the worst-affected areas was Tewkesbury, where Guy Warner – managing director of Warners Retail Ltd – owns a site. Today (Monday) it stands in five feet of water, with no sign of flood levels falling.
“I waded into the site on Saturday and it was waist deep,” he said. “A few hours later it was up to my chest.
“There are pumps sticking out of the water and when I poked my head inside the shop everything was floating around in there - freezers, fridges, food.
“We can’t even get to the site at the moment because everything is under water.
“We are going to be out of action for a long time and we’re going to have to totally rebuild the site. The computers, stock, everything has been under water for three days now..... and who knows how much longer?
“It’s just heartbreaking. We’re used to flooding in Tewkesbury, we have floods every year, but nothing like this. It’s never got into the site before – it’s unprecedented.”
Guy owns two petrol stations and three stand-alone Budgens
food stores in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire - all of which were affected by the floods to varying degrees.
He is most concerned about the fuel which is stored underground.
“One of the reasons I waded in on Saturday was to see if I could assess if any fuel was leaking. It is contained in sealed containers, but who knows? I couldn’t see any in the water though thankfully.
“I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that the fuel is OK. But we won’t know until the water level drops.”
The rain started on Friday evening and by 6am on Saturday the site
was under about 3.5ft of water. Then it started to rise again very quickly on Sunday night - we’ve got water coming down from Evesham and the surrounding area.
“I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.... all in all we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us!”
To make matters worse, Guy’s own home in Toddington, Gloucestershire, was also affected. He has been working to limit the damage after water levels rose to 2.5ft throughout the house.
“The only one of my sites that seemed to have escaped was the petrol station
in Quedgeley, also in Gloucestershire. But then the sub-station for the area
was hit - and the power went.
“We’re now having to move all our chilled and frozen foods to another site. “It’s a total nightmare really.”
Fellow Gloucester-based forecourt trader Clive Gardner, chairman of Gardner Garages, was also hit by the flooding.
His forecourt in the centre of the city was three quarters submerged this morning - and the water was still rising, coming down from Evesham and nearby hills.
“I’m hoping it won’t enter the shop - the forecourt is on a slope so it’s OK for the moment,” he said. “But there’s no power so we’re having to move all the chilled stock. “I’ve got 87,000 litres of fuel underground, I really hope it doesn’t leak.”
The site, one of six in the area owned by Clive, is close to the banks of the River Severn.
The water first reached the site last night (Sunday).
He said: “It started to creep onto the forecourt at 10pm on Sunday. I went down to the site and stayed until 4am and I just watched it slowly coming up.
“I went home to sleep for an hour or two and then went back to move all the computers and electrical things in case it got into the shop.
“It’s just a case of watching and waiting now.”
Mark Wilson, group operations manager at the Fraser Group, also saw business affected by the freak weather.
While the group’s Cannon Pool station in Witney, Oxfordshire, was safe from the rising floodwater, the site had to be temporarily closed for a few hours on Friday and Saturday.
Mark said: "A lot of staff had their houses flooded, while others couldn’t get to work because the area was under water."
The site has since re-opened.