'Immediate evacuation' enforced in Ironbridge as flood barriers 'overwhelmed'

27 February 2020, 00:36 | Updated: 27 February 2020, 00:41

Flood defences in Ironbridge have been overwhelmed by the volume of water
Flood defences in Ironbridge have been overwhelmed by the volume of water. Picture: PA

An "immediate evacuation" has been ordered for a West Midlands town after flood barriers were "overwhelmed by the pure volume of water."

Police are telling residents to "leave their properties and businesses" in Ironbridge, Shropshire, as the barriers are struggling to hold back the masses of water.

Head of Local Policing for West Mercia Police, Chief Superintendent Tom Harding, took to Twitter to issue a warning.

He said: "We've ordered an immediate evacuation of the residences on the wharfage in Ironbridge. As you can see we've got water that is starting now to come underneath the flood barriers and in areas it appears that it's buckling.

"We want to be open and transparent with the public and the residents here so that they make that informed decision and come with us.

"I'm really pleased, I'm at one of the addresses now, the residents are just going to come out with me. We've got officers and other partners who are with other people at other premises."

The Chief Supt asked people to spread the word and pass the update on to any friends or family in the area who may have been affected by the flooding.

He also thanked all the partners and people in the community for their help and assistance.

Councillor Shaun Davies, the leader of Telford and Wrekin Council, also said people should leave their homes and "stay away" from Ironbridge.

In a video on Twitter, he said: "The barriers are buckling, overwhelmed by the pure volume of water in the River Severn and the prolonged pressure they have been under."

He added: "This is a developing situation but it has significantly developed and increased in terms of its dangerousness with regards to the barriers collapsing."

It comes as flood defences along the River Severn were breached after experienced record-breaking levels of water, with forecasters warning of more rain over the coming days.

The River Severn breached temporary flood barriers in Bewdley, Worcestershire after low-lying areas of the River Severn were hit by three weekends of bad weather.

Authorities warned more areas along the river are expected to be hit by severe flooding on Wednesday.

Environment Agency manager David Thriup said the temporary barriers were not the main defences at Bewdley, and asked that the public avoid the area while officials work to battle against the rising tide of water.

On Wednesday morning two severe "danger to life" flood warnings had been issued for the Shropshire towns of Shrewsbury and Ironbridge.

A further 103 flood warnings, meaning that flooding is expected, and 147 flood alerts, meaning that flooding is possible, are also in place across the country.