Police urge residents in Bedfordshire to evacuate as Storm Bella poses flooding risk

‘The river is currently at heightened levels and we’re predicting a significant flooding event by 8pm this evening’, police say

Vincent Wood
Friday 25 December 2020 20:21
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<p>Flooding on the B645 road in Stonely, Cambridgeshire on Christmas Eve</p>

Flooding on the B645 road in Stonely, Cambridgeshire on Christmas Eve

People living along the River Great Ouse in Bedfordshire have been told to leave their homes as Storm Bella risks causing significant flooding.

The named storm - due to arrive on Boxing Day is set to follow a period of heavy rain that has caused banks to burst and waterways to swell across the country.

And Bedfordshire police has warned the arrival of Storm Bella accompanied by 60-70mph winds on the coast could put some homes at risk across the north of the region.

The force “strongly urged” residents living near the river in at-risk areas to seek alternative accommodation due to fears of flooding.

On Christmas Day, Superintendent Steve Ashdown, who is leading the response, said officers had visited just over 1,300 homes in the area the previous evening.

“The river is currently at heightened levels and we’re predicting a significant flooding event by 8pm this evening,” he said in a video on Twitter.

“If you received one of those notices last night, you are in one of those properties that are most at risk from this flood. We would encourage you to leave if it is safe for you to do so, as soon as you are able to do so.

“Appreciate the timing of this at Christmas Day is not great, but the risk to you and your family and wellbeing is significant.”

The storm’s arrival follows relatively calm and cold conditions across the UK on Christmas Day, which saw early morning snowfall recorded in some areas including Leconfield in Humberside and Wattisham in Suffolk.

Superintendent Ashdown asked residents able to leave their homes to do so in a “Covid-safe way” if possible, recommending they go to one single location and stay there until it is safe to return in the coming days.

It comes after the Environment Agency issued two severe flood warnings for the River Nene in Northamptonshire on Thursday, indicating a risk to life.

Across England, a total of 85 flood warnings and 110 flood alerts, as well as the two severe flood warnings, remained in force at 4pm on Christmas Day as huge amounts of water flowed through river catchments.

Northamptonshire Police continued to urge people to stay away from the Billing Aquadrome holiday park, after hundreds were evacuated on Christmas Eve due to high water levels on the River Nene.

Detective Superintendent Jamie Piscopo said: “Emergency services are working hard to ensure residents can return to the site as soon as possible, however it is not currently safe to do so.

“We’d urge them to stay away until such time it is safe to do.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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