UK weather: Police call for ‘immediate evacuation’ of flood-hit Ironbridge in Shropshire

Flood-hit residents were today urged by police to evacuate their homes ‘immediately’ after temporary barriers were overwhelmed in a historic Shropshire town.

Officers told people in Ironbridge to leave their properties and businesses as soon as possible as the force of the swollen River Severn forced flood defences backwards, although they managed to hold.

More wet weather is forecast in some of the worst-affected areas today, with the Met Office expecting parts of Wales and the North West of England will see another 0.8in (2cm) to 1.6in (4cm) of rain. 

It comes as a riverside town 20 miles away in Worcestershire was underwater today after flood defences finally failed in the face of unprecedented flooding and the ever-rising River Severn.

Floodwater has been pouring over the top of temporary barriers erected in the wake of Storm Dennis at Beale’s Corner in the town of Bewdley, which straddles the Severn north of Worcester.

Water crashed over barriers for the first time in decades and consumed an area near homes and businesses at the riverbank. Thousands of properties across Britain have been evacuated since the storm hit on February 15.

Meanwhile anger has been growing at how the Government has reacted since the bad weather began three weeks ago when communities in Yorkshire were flooded after Storm Ciara, in scenes reminiscent of Boxing Day 2015.  

Flood barriers which have moved due to the weight of water in the River Severn in the Wharfage area of Ironbridge today

 

The swollen Severn, which has breached emergency defences, flows under The Iron Bridge in Ironbridge, Shropshire, today

The swollen Severn, which has breached emergency defences, flows under The Iron Bridge in Ironbridge, Shropshire, today

The swollen River Severn is pictured from the Iron Bridge today after after it pushed back emergency defences in Ironbridge

The swollen River Severn is pictured from the Iron Bridge today after after it pushed back emergency defences in Ironbridge

A home surrounded and half-submerged in flood water in Ironbridge, Shropshire, this morning

A home surrounded and half-submerged in flood water in Ironbridge, Shropshire, this morning

Homes submerged in flood water in Ironbridge, Shropshire, today after further rain pushed water levels even higher

Homes submerged in flood water in Ironbridge, Shropshire, today after further rain pushed water levels even higher

A car submerged in flood water in Ironbridge, Shropshire, today after further rain pushed water levels even higher

A car submerged in flood water in Ironbridge, Shropshire, today after further rain pushed water levels even higher

Flood defences are just about holding back floodwater in Ironbridge today, although the Shropshire town is under threat

Flood defences are just about holding back floodwater in Ironbridge today, although the Shropshire town is under threat

A canoe outside a flooded home in Ironbridge today as Shropshire faces severe flooding along the River Severn

A canoe outside a flooded home in Ironbridge today as Shropshire faces severe flooding along the River Severn

Homes surrounded and submerged in flood water in Ironbridge, Shropshire, this morning

Homes surrounded and submerged in flood water in Ironbridge, Shropshire, this morning

In Bewdley, firefighters have been scrambled to the town to evacuate residents, with paramedics on scene to assist the vulnerable and elderly. Emergency workers also tried in vain to pump floodwater back into the Severn. 

Tonight there is more misery to come, the Environment Agency warns, when the River Severn is expected to come close to its highest recorded level, which was just over six yards (5.56m) high in November 2000.  England has now seen more than 200 per cent of its average February rainfall, with four days of the month still left to go.

River levels on Severn still close to all-time record 

Parts of the River Severn remain close to their highest level on record, according to the latest Environment Agency data.

At Bewdley, the Severn stood at 5.45 metres at 10am today – just below the all-time record of 5.56 metres which was set on November 2, 2000.

The level has risen more than two metres in the past 72 hours, jumping from 3.36 metres at 9.15am on Sunday.

The agency forecasts the level at Bewdley will peak at 5.48 metres later today and will remain at a near-record high into tomorrow.

Upstream at Buildwas, near Ironbridge, the Severn had reached 6.79 metres at 10am today, a little under the record for that stretch of 7.04 metres.

At Bridgnorth, the Severn stood at 5.19 metres at 10am, very close to its all-time record there of 5.26 metres.

Both of these records were also set on November 2, 2000.

By contrast at the Welsh Bridge in Shrewsbury, the river level is now dropping. It stood at 4.89 metres at 10am today, down from 5.12 metres at 7pm on Tuesday.

The level here is forecast to carry on falling to below four metres by tomorrow evening – though this is still above the point at which property flooding is possible.

On the evacuation of Ironbridge, a West Mercia Police spokesman tweeted today: ‘We’re currently carrying out an immediate evacuation in Ironbridge due to the temporary barriers becoming overwhelmed.

‘Officers from West Mercia Police, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, Telford and Wrekin Council and Environment Agency Midlands are in the area. If you are affected please head to the Tontine Hotel.’

The Met Office has warned of further showers across the UK today, followed by even more rainfall tomorrow and on Friday, with up to 0.4in (10mm) expected to fall on the River Severn’s source, the Welsh hills.   

Wintry showers in the North West will also continue tonight before hill snow spreads across the southern third of the UK, with rain possibly turning to low-level snow over the Midlands and East Anglia into tomorrow. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has still not visited the flooded regions that voted him into power 11 days after storms and torrential downpours ruined homes and devastated businesses.

Victims have criticised the £500 they can claim in compensation when they are flooded. The grants were announced by the Government earlier this month as part of a raft of measures designed to help people affected.

In Bewdley today, distressed locals were being rescued as their properties are affected by the floods. A couple with their daughter who were stuck inside their house got out with rescue dinghies.

Amanda Price, the mother who was rescued said they were forced to move out and book a room in a nearby hotel. She said: ‘It’s upsetting, it’s an inconvenience for all of us, it’s quite bad inside the house.

‘The local community has been disrupted by something that could have been prevented maybe. Billions are being spent on the wrong area instead of trying to prevent natural disasters – we wouldn’t be able to stop them but at least try. 

Thousands of residents living near the Severn face flooding, with a 100-mile stretch of the river issued with flood warnings

Thousands of residents living near the Severn face flooding, with a 100-mile stretch of the river issued with flood warnings

Rescue workers help a woman to safety in flood waters this afternoon in Bewdley, Shrewsbury

Rescue workers help a woman to safety in flood waters this afternoon in Bewdley, Shrewsbury

An aerial view of the severe flooding in Bewdley, Worcestershire, today as the River Severn remains very high in the area

An aerial view of the severe flooding in Bewdley, Worcestershire, today as the River Severn remains very high in the area

EAST SIDE: Flood barriers fail to hold back the River Severn, in Bewdley, Worcestershire, on one side of the river this morning

EAST SIDE: Flood barriers fail to hold back the River Severn, in Bewdley, Worcestershire, on one side of the river this morning

WEST SIDE: Flood defences in Bewdley are still holding back the river on the other side today as the Severn remains high

WEST SIDE: Flood defences in Bewdley are still holding back the river on the other side today as the Severn remains high

Flooding in Bewdley, Worcestershire, as the River Severn remains high today, with warnings of further flooding across the UK

Flooding in Bewdley, Worcestershire, as the River Severn remains high today, with warnings of further flooding across the UK

Flooding in Bewdley, Worcestershire, with flood defences now breached on the east side of the River Severn today (right)

Flooding in Bewdley, Worcestershire, with flood defences now breached on the east side of the River Severn today (right)

Flood barriers fail to hold back the River Severn, in Bewdley, Worcestershire, as people survey the damage this morning

Flood barriers fail to hold back the River Severn, in Bewdley, Worcestershire, as people survey the damage this morning

Flooding in Bewdley, Worcestershire, today as the River Severn remains high, with warnings of further flooding across the UK

Flooding in Bewdley, Worcestershire, today as the River Severn remains high, with warnings of further flooding across the UK

Flooding in Bewdley, Worcestershire, today as the River Severn remains high, with warnings of further flooding across the UK

Flooding in Bewdley, Worcestershire, today as the River Severn remains high, with warnings of further flooding across the UK

‘Boris Johnson has chosen not to speak, not to offer anything, it’s like he is an empty ornament. I wonder if this was Downing Street near the river if they would have done the same to prevent this. ‘

Residents in Ironbridge fearful as flood defences look set to be breached

Residents in Ironbridge are on tenterhooks as the town’a flood defences look set to be breached.

The River Severn is at its peak with the temporary flood defences installed by the Environment Agency being pushed back by the sheer volume of water. The river is currently at its peak.

An aerial view of flooded Bewdley in Worcestershire today

An aerial view of flooded Bewdley in Worcestershire today

Elizabeth Maiden, 88, has lived in the same cottage by the banks of the River Severn her whole life. Despite being advised to leave her home, she has decided to stay put.

She said: ‘I’ve lived here for 80 years and it was worse than this in 1947 and 2000. It’s peaked now. I’ve had all sorts of advice from people. Do I want to leave, do I want to be evacuated? 

‘No! Where would I go? I can’t see any point in leaving. I can’t leave my property with all the vandalism these days. You never know who’s around.’

Neil Hunt, 58, owns Truffles Cafe which is directly in front of the flood barrier. He said: ‘I’m not a religious man but I am praying. We’ve had the cafe for 15 years and this is the worst it’s ever been.

‘The barriers are buckling and have been pushed across two or three metres. If the barriers go then you’ll get an insurge of water in to the cafe.

‘We’ve takes precautions and moves stuff to the back where it’s a bit higher. I’d like to thank the Enivorment Agency, the council and the police for everything they’ve done.

A woman go gave her name as Sue and manages a holiday cottage along the river said: ‘We’re all very concerned. Everyone is keeping buoyant. If you live by a river you expect some try in like this to happen.

‘I’ve lived in the area all my life and it’s been worse than this. It used to flood every year before the barriers went up.

Sian Harrison, 45, lives in Bowers Yard, a small hamlet next to the River. She said: ‘I’ve lived here nine years and it’s the worst it’s ever been. Everyone down the lane has said it’s the worst it’s ever been. Two of our neighbours who are elderly were rescued last night. Hopefully we’ll all be OK.’

Lillian Kelly, who has lived in t he Hamlet for 20 years said the floods have stranded her and family.

She said: ‘Getting out is tricky. We have to park the cars out by the bridge. The ground is very saturated too. We’re a good community down here so we’ll look after ourselves.’

Another local who lives nearby, Jane Taylor Cohen, brought food and snacks to her friends who live in one of the affected buildings.

She said: ‘it’s a bit daunting, it’s sad for the families, I saw a couple with a baby being rescued yesterday. I hope for better protection from the government.

‘It’s not good that Boris Johnson hasn’t showed up. If he was here I would ask him ‘what are you going to do, these people need you’. I think a lot of people are going to be angry with him.’

The snow continued to affect commuters today, with several accidents on motorways in Cheshire amid the conditions, with part of the M53 closed near Little Stanney and a section of the M62 shut near Warrington.

It comes as low-lying areas along the River Severn are also expected to be hit by severe flooding on Wednesday, with potential over-topping of defences in Ironbridge in Shropshire of high concern.  

Ongoing flooding is forecast over the next few days, with England having seen more than 200 per cent of its average February rainfall, the agency said. 

Railway lines into Shrewsbury were closed due to the rising water levels close to the viaduct.

Network Rail said: ‘The exceptionally high-water levels in the Severn and the closure of these lives serve to highlight the extreme weather we’ve experienced across the network over the last few weeks.

‘The current situation in Shrewsbury is very much a once-in-a-generation event.’

It said engineers would be undertaking an underwater inspection of the viaduct’s structure this morning before lines can reopen.

Residents in the Worcestershire town of Bewdley were forced to evacuate after the river spilled over barriers at Beales Corner.

Mark Bowers, a flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, tweeted: ‘Huge amounts of water in the system. Thoughts with the local community who have been impacted.’ 

In the at-risk town of Ironbridge, the force of the river forced flood defences backwards, although they managed to hold.

Shortly after 1am this morning, Chief Superintendent Tom Harding, of West Mercia Police, tweeted: ‘The barrier appears intact but has indeed moved. This will be monitored throughout the night.’

Environment Agency spokesman Marc Lidderth added: ‘The temporary barriers that we have here are holding back the floodwater that’s making its way down the system.

‘Overnight and in the early hours of this morning those barriers have moved. However those barriers are still holding the water and the risk of the over-topping that we were going to see potentially happen through the night, hasn’t actually happened.’

The agency is keeping a close eye on the barriers on the Severn, said Mr Lidderth, who said drones may be used later today to assess the defences.

Roads around the Ironbridge Gorge have also been closed to stop people driving in floodwater, Telford and Wrekin Council said.

The level of the River Severn reached more than 22ft (6.79m) in the Shropshire village of Buildwas at around 8.30am this morning – up from a level of 16ft (4.19m) on Sunday. 

In the North East, flood warnings remain in place in the Snaith area, in East Yorkshire, ahead of a high tide on Wednesday morning.

The Environment Agency said the washlands at Gowdall Ings are continuing to fill and are overtopping, as designed, into Snaith Ings, with flooding affecting properties nearby.

Hull Coastguard Rescue Team joined other agencies, including police, fire and ambulance services, on Tuesday night to alert residents and help with evacuations.

A swollen River Severn, in Bewdley, Worcestershire, is pictured this morning as the River Severn continues to rise

A swollen River Severn, in Bewdley, Worcestershire, is pictured this morning as the River Severn continues to rise

The swollen River Severn, in Bewdley, Worcestershire, is pictured today after water started to pour over the top of defencesongoing flooding is also forecast for the next few days.

The swollen River Severn, in Bewdley, Worcestershire, is pictured today after water started to pour over the top of defencesongoing flooding is also forecast for the next few days.

A bridge over the swollen River Severn, in Bewdley, Worcestershire, today is pictured next to the flood defences

A bridge over the swollen River Severn, in Bewdley, Worcestershire, today is pictured next to the flood defences

Workers look at the river levels next to the swollen River Severn in Bewdley, Worcestershire, this morning

Workers look at the river levels next to the swollen River Severn in Bewdley, Worcestershire, this morning

Rising water levels from the River Severn have breached flood barriers in Bewdley, Worcestershire, pictured today

Rising water levels from the River Severn have breached flood barriers in Bewdley, Worcestershire, pictured today

High river levels in on the Severn in Bewdley, Worcestershire, today with warnings of further flooding across the UK

High river levels in on the Severn in Bewdley, Worcestershire, today with warnings of further flooding across the UK

Yesterday, East Riding of Yorkshire Council said that 10 properties – seven commercial and three residential – had flooded in Snaith and the road north of the town had been closed.

Further sleet and snow is expected in some areas today

Further sleet and snow is expected in some areas today

The Snaith School said it will be closed today as a precaution and Snaith Primary School also remains closed.

This morning there were two severe flood warnings – meaning there is a risk to life – on the River Severn.

There were a further 102 flood warnings and 146 flood alerts in place stretching from the Lake District down to the south coast, with heavy concentrations in the North East and South West.

Many towns the length of the River Severn were also at risk.

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