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Rising Flood Waters Drive People From Their Homes

OXFORD, England (AP) _ Rising flood waters drove nearly 100 people out of their homes in Oxford Wednesday as the surge from Britain's worst floods in 60 years continued its slow progress down the Thames Valley.

Waters continued to recede upstream in the hard-hit cities of Tewkesbury and Gloucester, but water lapping at some doorsteps in Oxford showed that the inundation was not over.

Oxfordshire Council said that 90 people had been evacuated from their homes early Wednesday. Thames Valley Police said about 250 homes had been contacted and residents warned that they might wish to move to higher ground.

Flood waters were up to 4 feet deep in west Oxford on Wednesday; the flooded area was well away from the university and the city center.

The problem wasn't with the Thames itself but with Bullstake and Botley streams, which meander through west Oxford before joining the Thames.

Anthony O'Rourke said he was resigned to the flooding.

``If you buy a house next to a stream, or even a braided network of them, what can you expect?'' O'Rourke said, standing outside his flooded home.

At the flooded George Inn pub on Botley Road, a sign proclaimed: ``Open for business _ come hell or high water.''

Camilo Zapata said he had given up fighting the water that invaded his home on Tuesday.

``We mopped up for a while, farcically, then we thought, 'sod it' and we had a few beers,'' Zapata said. ``The boys next door got some whisky out. And then it started to get a bit more serious.''

In the Gloucester-Tewkesbury area, nearly 350,000 people were without treated water service Wednesday and faced several more days of relying on bottled water or supplies from tankers.

Britain has had one of its wettest summers on record _ a sharp contrast to last summer, which was one of its driest and hottest. Nearly 5 inches of rain fell in some areas on Friday alone. More rain then fell on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Damage from the flooding _ the result of torrential rains in June and July _ could cost insurers more than $6 billion, the Fitch Ratings agency said Tuesday.
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