Storm Dennis: Nine severe weather warnings remain in place as parts of UK see ‘worst floods in 200 years’

Thirty properties evacuated in Telford as River Severn threatens to breach barrier

Chiara Giordano
Tuesday 18 February 2020 10:28 GMT
UK weather: The latest Met Office forecast

People are being urged to leave their homes and severe flood warnings remain in place after parts of the UK saw their worst flooding in 200 years.

Police have advised residents in affected areas of Shropshire they are risking their own safety and that of the emergency services if they choose not to evacuate their properties after the Environment Agency said flooding was “potentially imminent” on Tuesday afternoon.

There are currently six severe flood warnings, indicating a danger to life, in place across England and two in Wales, with more heavy rainfall expected to come in the aftermath of Storm Dennis.

Downpours have swollen rivers to “exceptional” levels in places following the weekend’s storm and hundreds of properties have already been flooded.

The latest warning, for the River Severn, in Telford, has prompted 30 more properties to be evacuated after water pressure caused the road surface to crack and levels threatened to overtop the barrier.

Residents in Hereford, which has been badly hit by flooding, say they have never seen anything like it, while the Environment Agency’s manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire described the extraordinary flooding.

Dave Throup tweeted on Monday night: “I’ve seen things today I would not have believed. Large parts of my home town and village are underwater tonight.

“This is not normal flooding, we are in uncharted territory.”

Tuesday is expected to bring a brief respite from the worst of the weather for most of the UK, with sunny spells and showers, though areas of Wales could see downpours.

But the flood risk continues with further heavy rain forecast in the north of England for Wednesday and Thursday, possibly falling on already flooded areas.

Met Office forecaster Marco Petagna said: “With the ground being so saturated it’s not going to help the situation and there’s more persistent rain coming on Wednesday.

“There will be wet and windy weather across the UK on Wednesday and Thursday, with the heavy rain coming back.”.

Families bail water out of flooded homes after the River Wye burst its banks in Herefordshire on Monday
Families bail water out of flooded homes after the River Wye burst its banks in Herefordshire on Monday (AFP)

The Met Office has issued two yellow weather warnings for snow and ice covering parts of Scotland until 11am on Tuesday.

There are also further warnings of persistent rain in Wales from 6pm on Wednesday until 3pm on Thursday, which could be extended to the northwest of England.

The Environment Agency said about 1,000 staff were on duty on Monday night, with 5km of flood barriers deployed and 90 pumps in action.

West Mercia Police said residents in Upton upon Severn and Uckinghall, in Worcestershire, were advised to evacuate on Monday night.

However, assistant chief constable Geoff Wessell said there was a “level of relief” for the area on Tuesday morning as flood defences appeared not to have been breached.

Mr Wessell advised people to remain cautious, not to drive through floodwater and to remain ready to leave their homes if they need to.

Emergency evacuations were carried out in Hereford, where the River Wye reached its highest level on record.

Among the areas worst affected by Storm Dennis over the weekend were South Wales, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire where major incidents were declared.

A woman who was swept away by floodwater near Tenbury in Worcestershire on Sunday was found dead on Monday.

A statement from the family of Yvonne Booth, 55, from the Great Barr area of Birmingham, said: “Yvonne is a very much loved member of our family and we are all devastated by this news.

“We appreciate the continued support from the emergency services. We would like to ask for our privacy at this time.”

The prime minister resisted calls to chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, Cobra, to tackle the flooding crisis, despite criticism from the Labour Party.

Luke Pollard, shadow environment secretary, said it was a “disgrace” that Boris Johnson had “refused” to visit affected communities.

Additional reporting by agencies

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