Storm Bella: ‘Danger to life’ warning in Bedfordshire as wind speeds top 80mph

Firefighters have already had to rescue nine people and three dogs from submerged properties

Colin Drury@colin__drury,Liam James
Sunday 27 December 2020 00:34
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Flooding in Bedford as River Great Ouse bursts banks ahead of Storm Bella
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More than 1,300 people were evacuated in Bedfordshire after residents were told lives may be at risk as Storm Bella brought 80mph winds to parts of the UK on Boxing Day.

Severe flood warnings – meaning a danger to life – were issued along the Great Ouse in the county, with those living in nearby properties told to leave for their own safety.

Warnings came as firefighters said they had already had to rescue nine people and three dogs following sudden inundation in the Harrold area on Christmas Day.

“The river is currently at heightened levels and we’re predicting a significant flooding event,” Superintendent Steve Ashdown, of Bedfordshire Police, said in a video warning posted on Twitter. “The risk to you and your family and well being is significant.”

Two other areas have also been placed under the severe warning: Cogenhoe Mill caravan site and Billing Aquadrome Holiday Park, both on the River Nene in Northamptonshire.

More than 1,000 people had already been evacuated from the latter location on Christmas Eve amid fears the fast-rising river would burst its banks.

In St Neots, Cambridgeshire, flood defences were put up on Boxing Day ahead of the overnight storm.

Evacuations came as Bella – which swept in from the Atlantic – brought winds of upwards of 80mph to some coastal areas. On Saturday evening, a gust of 83mph was recorded at Aberdaron in north Wales.

The Met Office issued yellow weather warnings – meaning some possible disruption – across the whole of England and Wales as well as the south of Scotland.

More severe amber warnings were also put in place for south Wales and parts of southern England on Saturday with up to 25mm of rain forecast to fall there and potentially 60mm in some upland areas.

Separately, the Environment Agency issued 77 flood warnings – meaning flooding is expected – and a further 98 flood alerts, recommending residents be prepared for disruption. They stretch from Dorset in the south-west all the way up to Humberside in the north east.

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