Storm Dennis: Flood-hit communities brace for further heavy rain

19 February 2020, 08:18

By Megan White

Communities left underwater by Storm Dennis are braced for further heavy rain as river levels continue to threaten to breach barriers.

1,400 properties across England and Wales were flooded over the weekend and hundreds more evacuated after the downpours brought to the UK over the past two weeks.

Six severe flood warnings remained in place on Wednesday, with rain starting to build up in the west from mid-morning.

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings for persistent rain in Wales and north-west England for Wednesday and Thursday, and the north of England on Friday into Saturday.

On Tuesday, Environment Agency (EA) manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Dave Throup said the level of flooding had left affected parts in "uncharted territory".

More flooding is expected across the country on Wednesday
More flooding is expected across the country on Wednesday. Picture: PA

Kate Marks of the EA said while Storm Dennis had passed, "we'll be feeling the impacts for a few more days".

"There's a lot more water in the river systems. In particular we are worried about the Rivers Severn, Teme and Wye," Dr Marks said.

Both the Rivers Wye and Severn will remain especially high into the weekend, after both broke records this week.

The River Wye peaked at more than six metres, with the EA describing levels as "exceptional" and residents in Hereford saying they had never seen anything like it.

The Met Office said over the next two days there could be up to 100 millimetres of rain in north Wales and 50-60mm in the south of Wales.

A care home resident is pulled to safety by rescue workers as floodwater surrounds the village of Whitchurch in Herefordshire
A care home resident is pulled to safety by rescue workers as floodwater surrounds the village of Whitchurch in Herefordshire. Picture: PA

West Mercia Police said an estimated 384 properties had been "significantly impacted by the floods" across Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.

Residents in the Shropshire towns of Ironbridge and Bridgnorth were urged to evacuate their properties, while residents in Bewdley near Kidderminster were warned flood barriers at Beales Corner might not be able to withstand the rising water levels.

Deputy Chief Constable Julian Moss said: "Water levels have been unprecedented in many places and the impact of such high-levels of flooding has been substantial across all the agencies, but more significantly to members of the public affected in any way."

More than six kilometres of temporary flood barriers have been erected across the country and flood defences have protected nearly 25,000 properties from the impacts of the storm, the EA said.

But record-breaking river levels and continued rainfall means further flooding is possible across much of the country, said EA executive director of flood and coastal risk management John Curtin.

"We expect further disruptive weather into tomorrow and Thursday, bringing a significant flood risk to the West Midlands, and there are flood warnings in place across much of England," he said.

The flood warnings remained in place on Wednesday morning for the River Severn at New Street and Waterside, Upton on Severn, the River Wye and the River Lugg at Hampton Bishop, and the River Severn at Ironbridge and Uckinghall.

In Wales, two severe warnings in place on the River Wye at Monmouth were downgraded by Natural Resources Wales, although the Wye bridge in the town remained closed.

Hundreds of residential and commercial properties have been flooded and several hundred people have either moved upstairs or found alternative accommodation.

Mountain rescue teams evacuated an elderly man from his home on a flooded road by breaking down his back door with a sledgehammer and taking him to safety on a raft.

Other neighbours on the A466 ventured to a nearby Lidl supermarket on canoes to pick up their food shopping.

And drinking water supplies were hit after a treatment works in Monmouthshire flooded.

Over the weekend, the River Taff in Pontypridd reached its highest level in more than 40 years and the River Usk reached the highest level since 1979.

The River Trent, which had prompted a severe flood warning for Burton-on-Trent, also peaked at record levels of just below four metres on Tuesday.