Drivers swamped in Stone after flash-flood signs are moved
THREE motorists had to be rescued when their vehicles hit deep flash-floods – after road closure warning signs had been moved.
A boat was used to rescue one woman in her 30s, who was taken to hospital for checks after she became trapped in water up to her car's windows.
Now police are investigating why the signs were lifted away from the centre of the carriageway, in Stone, and left out of sight on the pavement.
Firefighters were called to the separate rescues on Meaford Road off the A34 within 12 hours on Friday night and Saturday morning.
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Drivers were initially blamed for ignoring the red warning signs until they were found to be in the wrong place, and Staffordshire police's traffic management unit was called in.
In the latest drama at 5.24am on Saturday, the woman had partly submerged her Citroen Saxo under water after more than an inch of rain fell in just hours.
A specialist boat rescue team from Newcastle fire station helped pull her to safety using an inflatable walkway.
Firefighters stayed on the telephone giving water survival advice to the terrified woman as the rising waters threatened to engulf her vehicle.
She was taken to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire for medical examinations.
A brigade spokesman said: "On first getting the 999 calls we couldn't understand why the 'Road closed' signs were being ignored until we found someone had moved them, leaving drivers oblivious to the dangers that lay ahead. We passed this on to the police who sent out their traffic management team which is looking into what happened."
The rescue happened in the short stretch of road behind the George and Dragon pub parallel to the A34 southbound carriageway which was also sealed off.
The same area has been flooded several times over the past two years and community leaders have asked the Environment Agency for an explanation for the growing problem.
Barlaston parish councillor John Russell said the last time was just two weeks ago, when one of his neighbours was rescued from his car and had to be checked over in hospital to make sure he had not developed hypothermia.
He said: "It seems to be getting worse each time but the weekend was the first time you couldn't drive from Stoke-on-Trent to Stafford because of flooding.
"We did have a lot of rain in a short period but so did other areas which did not flood.
"We hope the Environment Agency can give us answers over why it is becoming an increasing risk when it does not seem to be in a recognised flood plain.
"Some action is urgently needed before someone gets seriously hurt.
"This also affects Barlaston itself because whenever the main road is shut diverted traffic blocks the village."
Stone town councillor Harry Blunt added: "That area has problems every time it rains heavily these days.
"It was so bad this time that some people thought the canal had burst its banks.
"No one seems to know why it is so bad there – it could be that so many houses on higher nearby have concreted over their gardens, all the old soakaways have gone leaving water to run straight down onto the road."
The Meaford Road section was closed again yesterday afternoon (Sun) as mopping up operations began.