October is wettest since Great Storm

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN HAS suffered its wettest October since 1987, forecasters confirmed yesterday. In the submerged streets of Shrewsbury it was an unnecessary statistic. Amid the debris and sandbags, the residents knew already.

The ever-rising River Severn left the centre of the Shropshire town virtually cut off, with just one access point over the Kingsland Bridge.

It was the worst weather for 30 years, locals said, with the situation compounded by gridlock as motorists try to pick their way through the city. Extra police were drafted in to prevent children playing on submerged bridges.

No one has been evacuated in the town, but emergency measures are in place. Police said there was no access for any vehicle over three-and- a-half tonnes.

The Environment Agency said that water levels were 15ft above the normal level for this time of year.

In Herefordshire, some villages were still cut off. Twelve people in the city of Hereford were evacuated from their homes after the floods reached 100 properties beside the River Wye.

The city was accessible only from the east yesterday, with the main route submerged under three feet of water.

West Mercia police said that the Wye at Hereford was 19ft higher than normal in some places. They had answered 500 flood related calls in 48 hours, and fire crews made a number of rescues, including 28 elderly residents of a rest home in Hereford, and 18 cows in Burlingham, near Pershore, Worcestershire.

The River Severn is on red alert in between Upton upon Severn and Bewdley in Worcestershire.

Rail services across the Welsh-English border were severely disrupted with no trains running between Newport and Hereford.

Roads in the area were also blocked by floods, forcing Wales & West Trains to cancel some alternative buses it had arranged earlier.

In Wales, there are nine flood warnings in operation - six red and three amber. Flood waters were expected to reach Monmouth late last night.

The Met Office said its records showed that not since the hurricane which battered Britain 11 years ago this month had the country suffered such high rainfall.

A spokesman said: "There was 180 millimetres of rain in October 1987 and the latest figures show we have had 112 millimetres this month with more rain on the way."

Manchester had suffered the wettest October since records began in the city in 1942, after 160 millimetres of rain fell. The Environment Agency has sent staff into the areas hardest hit.

Brian Utteridge, the Environment Agency's head of flood defence, said: "The situation will remain critical for the next few days.

"If we have a wet weekend like last weekend, then there will be more red warnings."

Although there were only scattered showers across most of Britain yesterday, weather forecasters predicted more heavy downpours today.