These dramatic aerial photographs show how a picture postcard village in the Malvern Hills of Worcestershire has been overwhelmed by severe flooding from the River Severn with residents left homeless.
The isolated area of Severn Stoke, which has a population of about 600 people, has been deluged after the river broke its banks following heavy rainfall in the aftermath of Storm Dennis nearly a fortnight ago.
Dozens of homes, the Grade II-listed church and playing fields have been left underwater in the village which is still under an Environment Agency flood warning amid fears more rainfall could see river levels rise further.
Flood-hit communities will face further heavy rain and strong winds as Storm Jorge makes its way across the UK over the weekend, with 3in (80mm) of rain – a month’s worth – hitting Wales and northern England from tomorrow.
Jorge, which was named by Spanish meteorological services rather than the Met Office, could bring strong winds to much of England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Saturday, reaching 70mph on coasts and up to 60mph inland.
Police have warned flood-hit families across Shropshire and Worcestershire, where evacuations have been taking place in towns throughout this week, to expect ‘another ten days of difficult conditions’ with more heavy rain due.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declined to say whether he will be visiting areas where people have been made homeless by recent floods, while visiting the headquarters of a charity for the homeless this morning.
It comes as flood-hit residents in Ironbridge refused to leave their homes today amid fears over looting as they praised the community for ‘looking out for each other’ amid warnings over a further ten days of misery.
Flooding in Severn Stoke in Worcestershire today (right; and a normal view, left) after the River Severn has broken its banks
The isolated area of Severn Stoke, which has a population of 600, has been deluged today after the river broke its banks
The flooding of Severn Stoke today comes after heavy rainfall in the aftermath of Storm Dennis nearly a fortnight ago
Severn Stoke, pictured today, is home to a historic pub called The Rose And Crown in a 16th century timber building
The Worcestershire village of Severn Stoke has been deluged after the River Severn broke its banks following heavy rainfall
Aerial photographs show how the village of Severn Stoke in Worcestershire has been overwhelmed by flooding today
An aerial view of flooding in Severn Stoke just south of Worcester today where the River Severn has broken its banks
The EA warning for Severn Stoke said: ‘Flooding of properties and roads in and around Clifton and Severn Stoke continues. Further rainfall is forecast over the next few days, and this is likely to cause river levels to rise again.
‘We are closely monitoring the situation. Our incident response staff are checking defences. Please move possessions and valuables off the ground or to safety, and avoid contact with flood water.’
Severn Stoke is home to the Rose And Crown pub in a 16th century timber building, which was devastated during floods on Christmas Day 2012 when water levels rose to 18 inches in the bar as diners abandoned their lunches.
But the landlord and landlady Pete and Di Fryar continued living in the Grade II-listed building and were able to reopen less than a month later thanks to help from local residents and Marston’s Brewery in Wolverhampton.
Thousands of residents living near the Severn face flooding, with a 100-mile stretch of the river issued with flood warnings
Severe flooding from the River Severn in the village of Severn Stoke today has left some residents homeless
An aerial view of flooding in Severn Stoke near Worcester and Upton upon Severn today where the river has broken its banks
Dozens of homes, the Grade II-listed church and playing fields have been left underwater in the village of Severn Stoke today
Severn Stoke remains under a flood warning today amid fears further rainfall could cause river levels to rise again
Severn Stoke, pictured today, is isolated, with the local school having closed in 1969 and only occasional buses operating
The Worcestershire village of Severn Stoke has a Grade II-listed church and has been deluged by the recent flooding
The village is remote, with the local school having closed in 1969, only occasional buses operating to and from Worcester and Upton upon Severn and the nearest railway station of Great Malvern being a 20-minute drive away.
February is already the second wettest on record
This month is already the second wettest February on record, according to the Met Office.
Total average rainfall across the UK from February 1 to 25 was 179.3mm (7.1 inches) – more than the 175.2mm measured in 2002, which was previously ranked as the second wettest February.
Whether this month stands a chance of becoming the wettest ever February on record is unclear, however.
The figure to beat is 193.4mm (7.6 inches), which was set in February 1990.
Four more days of data – Feb 26 to 29 – will need to be combined with the current total of 179.3mm before the Met Office can publish a provisional figure for the entire month.
Heavy rain and strong winds are forecast to arrive in the UK tomorrow as part of a weather system that has been named Storm Jorge by the Spanish meteorological service.
Rain warnings for parts of Wales and northern England have been issued, with 60mm (2.4in) to 80mm (3.1in) possible over the highest ground.
The Met Office’s rainfall data goes back to 1862.
It shows that the lowest February rainfall on record is 9.1mm (0.36in) in 1932.
The figure for February 1862 – the oldest available – is 32.0mm (1.26in), which currently ranks as the eleventh driest February on record.
People living in riverside homes in the Shropshire town stayed put despite hearing a loud bang yesterday followed by a gushing sound as emergency flood defences that had held out for a week finally gave way to the Severn.
Gareth Anderson, 50, who lives next to the Wharfage area of the town, has stayed in his home for two weeks now and said today: ‘I haven’t left. I don’t see the need to leave. The community here is one that will help each other.’
Mr Anderson added that he was concerned by reports of looters, saying: ‘A few night ago a group of young lads were hanging around asking if people were in their homes.
‘I said every house was occupied. We all look out for each other down here. It’s crazy that a time like this people have to protect their home.’
But West Mercia Police Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said: ‘We have not received any reports of looting in Ironbridge.
‘We have officers out and about in the town throughout the day and night who are very much still responding to the flooding in the local area as well as providing reassurance and a visible presence.’
Some 35 properties have been evacuated, with police saying said ‘virtually all’ residents have now left.
Among those staying put was Elizabeth Maiden, 88, who said from her home: ‘I’ve lived here for 80 years and it was worse than this in 1947 and 2000. Do I want to be evacuated? No. Where would I go? I can’t see any point in leaving.’
Snow also affected Britain today, and 0.6in (15mm) of rain fell on heavily saturated areas, before a further 2.4in (60mm) across tomorrow and Saturday in Wales and northern England – when 70mph winds are also expected.
West Mercia Police told people in the Wharfage area of Ironbridge to leave their homes and businesses and said the force’s presence on the ground will ‘continue for the next ten days’ before things get back to normal.
Fire crews arrive today in Snaith, East Riding of Yorkshire, where locals have criticised the lack of help they have received
Members of the coastguard in Snaith, East Riding of Yorkshire, arrive to help communities affected by flooding today
People survey flooding in Snaith, East Yorkshire, today where locals have criticised the lack of help they have received
Members of the fire brigade in boats get through floodwater in Snaith, East Riding of Yorkshire, this afternoon
A woman has her door protected with sandbags in Snaith, East Riding of Yorkshire, this afternoon
Members of the fire brigade in boats get through floodwater in Snaith, East Riding of Yorkshire, this afternoon
Deputy Chief Constable Julian Moss said: ‘We are monitoring closely with colleagues at the Environment Agency, and an operational plan is in place with Shropshire Fire and Rescue should it be required.’
Pub owner is evacuated to a hotel after floodwater gushes into her business
A pub owner enjoyed some respite from the flooding today with a fish and chips lunch after being evacuated to a hotel when her business was deluged.
Jennifer Alexander is staying at the evacuation centre of the Valley Hotel in Ironbridge after her pub, The Boat Inn, was flooded in nearby Jackfield.
Jennifer Alexandra and Alan Cambridge enjoy their lunch at the Valley Hotel near Ironbridge today after being evacuated
She woke up in the early hours of Sunday to see water was inside the pub, and told her husband they had to leave immediately.
Ms Alexander said: ‘At Sunday at 2.40am I woke up and saw the water was in the pub. I woke my husband up and said we need to get out now.
‘It’s quite stressful. We flood regularly so we’ve done this many times before. It’s the same as the floods of 2000.
‘We don’t have any money coming in. We thought we had Monday morning to do some last minute preparations. It wasn’t scary as such, just acceptance that here we go again.’
Flooding along parts of the swollen Severn, which is now at or close to all-time high levels, is likely until at least Sunday, the Environment Agency said.
A severe flood warning for the river at Wharfage remained in place today.
There are 93 standard flood warnings and 134 alerts across England. A yellow weather warning of snow and ice was issued for much of the Midlands this morning, including the River Severn, and parts of the South.
Speaking about the rain, Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: ‘It’s not just the snow, there’s going to be a fair bit of rainfall mixed in with it. It’s not going to be large amounts, but it could be falling on heavily saturated areas.’
Among those staying put in Ironbridge today was Sarah Morris, 35, who runs Ironbridge Fine Art and last night slept in the back of her car to man her flood pumps.
She said: ‘We’re trying to deal with it in the best way we can. The water has gone down but the Environment Agency are saying it will peak again so we can’t clean up.
‘Last night we slept in the car to make sure the pumps could keep going. We’ve seen quite a few people moving around and we’re concerned about our stuff.’
Evacuees from the Wharfage area of Ironbridge have been moved to the town’s Valley Hotel and are in high spirits.
Sean Osborne, 66, has lived on the Wharfage for the last decade and spent last night in the hotel.
His house is directly opposite the flood barrier. He said: ‘The barrier is tried and tested but like anything no one knows what to expect. For me it wasn’t scary. I had confidence in the barrier.
‘I went outside and went up to the railings and looked over and saw the power of the water, it was amazing.
‘If there had been a problem with the barrier it would have been like a tsunami, that would have been the effect.’
(From left) Jennifer Alexandra, Alan Cambridge and Paul Charlesworth enjoy their lunch at the Valley Hotel near Ironbridge after being evacuated because of flooding from their homes in the nearby village of Jackfield, Shropshire
Flood barriers in Ironbridge, Shropshire, are pictured this morning – one day after residents were told to leave their homes
Flooded properties are seen beside the River Severn in Ironbridge today after the river burst its banks in the area
Floode properties in the Shropshire town of Ironbridge today after temporary flood barriers were overwhelmed by water
Flooding in Ironbridge, Shropshire, today as residents in riverside properties in the area have been told to leave their homes
Environment Secretary George Eustice speaks with Environment Agency manager Chris Bainger and a local resident during a visit to Ironbridge in Shropshire today
Flood barriers in Ironbridge, Shropshire, are pictured today after being pushed back – although they are still holding up
The swollen River Severn gushes under the Iron Bridge in the Shropshire town today as residents were told to evacuate
Ambulances and police vehicles in Ironbridge, Shropshire, today after residents in the area were told to leave their homes
Emergency services workers monitor the flooding in Ironbridge today after temporary flood barriers were overwhelmed
Evacuees from the Wharfage area of Ironbridge have been moved to the town’s Valley Hotel (pictured today)
Environment Secretary George Eustice views a screen showing drone camera images of flood defences in Ironbridge today
People stand on the Iron Bridge in the Shropshire town today after residents in riverside properties were told to evacuate
‘I was quite happy to stay there and some of my neighbours were the same. I got a call at 3am from the Environment Agency and then some calls from the council.
Environment Secretary George Eustice goes to Ironbridge to see flooding for himself… but still no sign of Boris
Environment Secretary George Eustice visited Ironbridge to see the flooding for himself today as Boris Johnson continued to face criticism over his failure to visit flood-hit communities.
He spoke with Environment Agency manager Chris Bainger and local residents during a visit to the Shropshire town this afternoon, a day after flood barriers buckled due to the weight of water in the River Severn
Environment Secretary George Eustice is accompanied by a member of the Environment Agency in Ironbridge today
Mr Eustice, who has said the Prime Minister’s presence on the ground would not have had made any difference to the response to the crisis, was shown drone camera images of flood defences during his trip.
It comes after he announced yesterday that farmers will be paid to sacrifice their farmland when rivers flood, which will allow fields to act as natural defences to protect homes.
Other measures would include planting more trees, restoring peat bogs and reintroducing beavers to create natural dams.
He said that natural defences would be key as climate change leads to increased flooding.
But he rejected calls for a public inquiry into Government handling of the floods, with Mr Johnson facing significant criticism for not visiting the affected communities.
‘I had eight calls in total saying the river would peak imminently. I thought I’d stay so I could monitor what was going on. I wouldn’t drown because I’d go upstairs, that was the calculated risk.
‘But they still wanted people to leave so I said would you be happy if I left and they said yes. I said alright then, I’d go if it keeps them happy, why should I mess things up? I don’t know when we’ll be able to go back.’
Jennifer Alexander, owner of the Boat Inn, who has also been evacuated, said: ‘At Sunday at 2.40am I woke up and saw the water was in the pub. I woke my husband up and said we need to get out now.
‘It’s quite stressful. We flood regularly so we’ve done this many times before. It’s the same as the floods of 2000. We don’t have any money coming in. We thought we had Monday morning to do some last minute preparations. It wasn’t scary as such, just acceptance that here we go again.’
And Chris Harrison, 47, who owns the Dale End café, said: ‘I’m angry. We haven’t finished working the cost of this yet but on equipment alone it’s probably £6,000 in damage. This is a community cafe, not a tourist cafe. People turned up at 3am to help us.’
Brooke Evans, 26, owns a hair salon on Dale End close to the Wharfage. She has spent close to two weeks sleeping in the salon manning the water pumps.
She said: ‘We’ve survived with people being in high spirits. As a business it’s been a bit difficult but no one has died. If we had left it would have meant no one would have been here to man the pumps and get the water out.’
The Environment Agency said buckled temporary flood defences were likely to be inspected on today – with the prospect of 650ft (200m) of spare barrier equipment being used to realign or reinforce any damaged sections.
Speaking at Ironbridge, EA environment manager Marc Lidderth said: ‘They did become compromised in some parts but they have stayed together and have held the vast majority of that floodwater away from the properties.
‘To help with our assessment of the barriers we need the water levels to obviously drop to a certain level which makes it safe for our operatives. We’re expecting that to be hopefully tomorrow.’
The River Severn reached its highest ever level of 5.77m (19ft) today after another night of heavy rain.
A playground sits partially submerged in floodwater in Tewkesbury today as the Gloucestershireas town suffers flooding
Properties back onto floodwater in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, today as the town continues to face flooding
A playground sits partially submerged in floodwater in Tewkesbury today as flooding misery continues in England
Swings at a playground sit partially submerged in floodwater in Tewkesbury this afternoon as the town suffers flooding
A vehicle sits just above the floodwater level in Tewkesbury this afternoon as the town faces a continued flooding risk
Dave Throup, Environment Agency manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire, said 500 tonnes of water – the equivalent to six HGVs – was flowing through the city of Worcester every second.
Prime Minister hails help for flood victims but declines to confirm visit to affected areas
Boris Johnson has declined to say whether he will visit areas where people have been made homeless by recent floods – while he toured the headquarters of a charity for the homeless.
Speaking at The Connection at St Martin’s in central London, the Prime Minister instead focused on how the ‘massive issue’ of flooding ‘presents an opportunity’ for job creation.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during a visit to the Connection homelessness centre in London today
Mr Johnson has been criticised for failing to visit flood-hit zones in Worcestershire and Shropshire, where residents have been forced to evacuate their homes.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has previously accused Mr Johnson of being a ‘part-time Prime Minister’ due to his absence in affected areas.
Speaking on Thursday, Mr Johnson said: ‘There’s a massive issue about flood defences, and we have put £2.6 billion in and we will be investing another £4 billion.
‘This is something that is absolutely critical for our country to tackle.
‘I think it also presents an opportunity, because in the whole business of green technology flood defences, planting trees, all the ways in which we are going to insulate our country against flooding, there are opportunities for job creation as well.
‘We have a fantastic system called cabinet government, and we have been working around the clock since these last floods really began.
‘This latest spate, to deal with them we mobilised the bell-wind scheme, £5,000 if they have suffered particular damage.
‘Businesses get £2,500 to get them back on their feet.’
Housing Minister Robert Jenrick, who visited the homelessness charity alongside the Prime Minister, said Mr Johnson is ‘very much in control’ of the flooding.
Aerial photographs of the city show Worcestershire Country Cricket ground and several rugby and football pitches flooded.
Only the tops of goal posts were visible on several pitches near the Severn illustrating the depth of the water.
Ade Cartwright, 50, and his family were forced to leave their home when it became apparent they would flood again.
He said: ‘My wife and I left, along with most of the neighbours. The city council have put us up in the Fownes Hotel.
‘We are managing but it is difficult living in one room together, 24 hours a day. Last weekend it came into the house, luckily we were prepared, once the water receded we managed to clear it up with a few friends within four hours.
‘Now it has happened again we have decided to leave. We can’t do anything until the levels drop and I don’t envisage that happening until the weekend.’
The floodwater is also creeping closer to homes on a road where a large number of elderly people live. Kim Weston said she feared for her parents’ wellbeing as water threatened to consume the elderly couple’s home.
She said: ‘The water is dangerously close to the properties, it has never been this close before. I am very concerned that my parents’ house will flood. The road has been closed but cars continue to speed down it.
‘It is causing the water to ripple and splash up the brickwork. I wish they would put a proper blockade to stop people driving through the floodwater. It is making matters worse.
‘We have received no official advice about what to do in this situation, I feel like we have been left to fend for ourselves a bit. It is really disappointing.
‘I managed to get hold of the city council and asked for some sandbags only to find out they don’t provide them. If we do flood we have no precautions in place. It is a very poor show.’
Worcester City Council said they did not provide sandbags because they were not effective in protecting against floods and could become contaminated by unhygienic floodwater.
A spokesman said: ‘Our recommended approach for flood alleviation is through alterations to homes such as raising floors and the installation of barriers.
‘Financial support for these measures is potentially available through the Flood Support Funding scheme.’
A ‘swathe of wet weather’ from the South West is due to push in overnight and into today, when two yellow weather warnings of snow have been issued by the Met Office.
The M5 crossing the River Avon, with Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire (top left) and the Severn branching off to the right, today
An aerial view of Upton upon Severn in Worcestershire today which has been completely surrounded by water
A warning sign is surrounded by water as floodwaters persist in the centre of Worcester this afternoon
Floodwaters persist in the centre of Worcester city centre this afternoon after the River Severn burst its banks
A car is surrounded by water amid severe flooding in the city centre of Worcester this afternoon
Floodwaters persist in the centre of Worcester after the River Severn burst its banks and caused chaos
Floodwaters persist in the centre of Worcester today, with forecasters predicting more rain and 70mph winds this weekend
A tree is surrounded by floodwaters in the centre of Worcester this afternoon, with more severe weather on the way
Flood water surrounds Worcester city centre today as residents in riverside properties in the area have been told to leave
Flood water surrounds Worcester city centre today, as residents in riverside properties near the Severn have been evacuated