UK weather: Flooding in Worcester causes River Severn to hit highest level on record

 

The residents of the cathedral city of Worcester are used to flooding – as any cricket fan will remember, the local county cricket ground was so badly affected in 2007 that it didn’t host a match until late June.

But with the River Severn hitting its highest level since records began on Thursday, pushing 500 tonnes of water a second under the city’s historic bridge, residents were beginning to wonder if 2014 could be the worst yet.

With river levels of up to 5.67 metres recorded by the Environment Agency Thursday morning, the only vehicles allowed over the crossing were driven by emergency and council workers, as hundreds of locals used their lunch hours to stand in awe in front of the engorged flow of water now splitting the town partially in two.

Though they were causing no problems, Thames Valley Police has warned people to avoid “flood sightseeing”, saying that 4x4 drivers trying to catch a glimpse of the scene were damaging properties by creating waves with their cars.

On the bridge in Worcester, the onlooking Environment Agency’s area manager David Throup said: “It is a colossal flow of water and it has to go somewhere. Every flood defence we own is out along the River Severn but despite our best efforts around 40 homes have flooded in the last  48 hours and many more are surrounded by water.”

 

The next 48 hours could be just as bad, with storms forecast for Friday expected to be even worse than those on Wednesday, when 100mph winds cut off electricity in many areas, leaving around 56,000 properties across the country still without power Thursday night.

The Met Office is forecasting between 30 and 40mm of rain in just six hours on Friday morning in West Dorset, South Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.

A falling tree was also blamed for the death of a 33-year-old man in a car crash in Macclesfield on Thursday, while a pensioner believed to have been electrocuted while trying to move a tree that had brought down power cables was named as Roger Hayward from Bremhill, Wiltshire.

Fire and rescue workers from across England and Wales are descending on the flood-ravaged south of the country in what amounts to the largest deployment of fire brigade assets since the Second World War, officials have said.

Nearly three-quarters of the 49 fire brigades across England and Wales’ are participating in the fight against flooding, sending staff and equipment to Somerset, Thames Valley and Cornwall.

Meanwhile panic about rising waters led to a row in Christchurch, where the Dorset town’s borough council asked locals to pay £30 for a “flood pack” of four standard sandbags and one to protect doorways. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, insisted that local authorities should not be charging residents in flood-hit areas for sandbags. But Christchurch council responded by saying they would only provide the sandbags in emergencies, and as yet there were no alerts.

Back in Worcester, one mile upstream at Waterworks Road, motorbike salesman Christian Gander was waist-deep in water but still phlegmatic about it seeping up from the ground into his home. He was also full of praise for the Environment Agency and particularly Mr Throup, saying: “I’d like to buy him a pint when this is all over.”

Pointing to the £20,000 of flood barriers and pumps he was using to keep his Victorian home as dry as possible, Mr Gander told The Independent: “We live by the river so we expect to see swans in the garden and to be flooded during wet winters. We are ready for it and thankfully our barrier has kept most of the water out. The concern though is Friday and the weekend, when we expect the water levels to rise again.”

The army responded to the “phenomenal water levels” in the local area with 100 soldiers from the First Battalion of the Royal Irish arriving on Thursday. Along with soldiers from The Rifles elsewhere in the county and Herefordshire, they will use specialist vehicles capable to travelling through flood water 1.5 metre deep to provide assistance to more remote flood-hit communities. Many small hamlets have been cut off, including the village of Holme Lacy on the bloated River Wye.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before