Frustrated communities call for ‘permanent solution’ to flooding after three storms in one week

Around 400 properties have been flooded but heavy rain is putting more at risk

Thomas Kingsley
Tuesday 22 February 2022 15:43 GMT
Storm Franklin batters UK with high winds and flooding, causing rush-hour delays

Flood-hit communities have called for a "permanent solution" to increasingly frequent deluges after three storms in a week left 1.4 million households without electricity and forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.

Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin left some people without power for 72 hours, while further heavy rain on Tuesday led to fears flood defences on the River Severn could be breached

Two “danger to life” warnings are in place along the river, which is close to reaching record high levels, according to a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who added that communities in parts of the West Midlands and the north of England to be prepared for significant flooding until Wednesday.

Major incidents have been declared in Worcestershire and Shropshire as water levels along the river continue to rise as nearly 200 flood warnings - meaning flooding is expected - were in place across England on Tuesday morning, particularly along the River Severn.

Six flood warnings were also in place in Wales and three in Scotland.

The Vic Haddock boat house under water on the River Severn following high winds and wet weather in Ironbridge, Shropshire ((Nick Potts/PA))

The fire service was called to rescue 14 people and four dogs from a waterlogged village of Ironbridge in Shropshire on Monday night after flooding along the River Severn. Some houses have no protection and “are still underwater” according to a local councillor who has called for a permanent solution to combat increasingly frequent flooding.

The Environment Agency confirmed that around 400 properties have flooded across different parts of the country as a result of the heavy rain.

More bad weather to come

While forecasters said the worst of the storms had passed, the Met Office issued new two yellow warnings for Wednesday and Thursday and ITV Weather presenter Becky Mantin suggested Storm Gladys could arrive hot on its heels on Thursday if windy conditions later in the weekend up becoming a named storm.

One warning, from 1pm Wednesday to Thursday afternoon, covered Northern Ireland and Scotland, warning of frequent heavy snow, gusty winds and a small chance of frequent lightning. There is also a small chance of injuries from flying debris and travel disruption and a “slight chance” of power cuts.

Telford and Wrekin councillor Shaun Davies near the River Severn following high winds and wet weather in Ironbridge, Shropshire ((Nick Potts/PA))

The other is for between 6am and 3pm on Wednesday in north-east England and south-east Scotland, which warns of winds of up to 60mph.

Thousands still without electricity

Latest figures from the Energy Networks Association show that 12,000 customers are still without power as of Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, UK Power Networks said on Tuesday morning 99 per cent of properties across the east and south-east have had their power restored.

It comes after business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said extreme weather, like the storms that have lashed the UK, “could” become a feature of the country’s climate.

Frustrated flood-hit communities are calling for a “permanent solution” to increasingly frequent flooding as heavy rain could “slow down” recovery from three storms that hit the UK within a week.

Flood defences along the Wharfage next to the River Severn following high winds and wet weather in Ironbridge, Shropshire ((Nick Potts/PA))

Telford and Wrekin councillor Shaun Davies, who was on the scene in Ironbridge on Tuesday morning where flooding has hit areas without defences, has called on the central government to provide a “permanent solution” to flood risks along the river.

Speaking to PA news agency, he said the situation is “tense” and local authorities have evacuated around 60 properties in the area.

He said: “Some properties have no protection from flood defences and are still underwater, and we have evacuated properties behind defences that could be breached while supporting those who have decided to stay put.

“We are doing all we can to support residents and are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.”

The councillor said the Defra said that flooding in 2020 was a “once-in-a-century event”.

“But it’s just two years later and we need to be preparing for this kind of event as a normal event going forward,” he said, adding that the community now needs “permanent barriers”.

Met Office forecaster Mark Wilson said while there will not be a “huge amount” of rain on Tuesday, further rainfall in flood-affected areas could “cause recovery to slow down massively”.

Met Office spokesperson Stephen Dixon added that the heavy showers lashing northern England and Northern Ireland are also set to move south-eastwards on Tuesday.

Tributes pour in for storm victims

Three victims of Storm Eunice have also been named.

Stephen Matthews Juliana Murilo were killed in the storm (Merseyside Police)

Juliana Da Silva Queiroz Murilo, 37, was crushed by a tree that fell on her husband’s car as he drove her home from work in London. He paid tribute to his “perfect wife” who was training to become a teacher.

Father-of-two Stephen Matthew, 68, from Aintree was confirmed to be the passenger killed after debris struck the windscreen of a vehicle he was in travelling through Netherton, Merseyside.

Jack Bristow, a 23-year-old father-of-one from Hampshire, was also a victim of Storm Eunice after a 40ft tree fell on to the roof of a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter pick-up in Old Odiham Road, Alton in Hampshire.

Despite the best efforts of emergency services, paramedics were unable to save Mr Bristow who was the passenger.

Water begins to spill behind flood defences along the River Severn at Bewdley in Worcestershire ((Joe Giddens/PA))

Meanwhile, two people were forced to take refuge on the roof of their 4×4 and a relative had to rescue a baby from the back seat after it became stuck in floodwater during Storm Eunice in the village of East Leake on Friday, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service said.

Katharine Smith, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We have teams out on the ground taking preventative action, closing flood gates, deploying temporary barriers and moving pumps and other response equipment to areas of highest risk. Environment Agency defences have protected more than 40,000 properties despite record river levels.

“We advise people to stay away from swollen rivers and not to drive through flood water as just 30cm of flowing water is enough to move your car.”

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