UK in 'uncharted territory' after record floods, Environment Agency chief warns

18 February 2020, 20:58

By Megan White

Nine severe flood warnings remain in place across the country in the wake of Storm Dennis, with more wet and windy weather to come.

The “danger to life” warnings came after record levels of flooding, which has left hundreds of properties underwater.

The warnings remain along the Rivers Severn, Wye and Lugg in Wales and the River Trent in Staffordshire.

188 flood warnings, meaning that flooding is expected, and 233 flood alerts, meaning that flooding is possible, are in place across the country.

On Monday, there were more than 480 flood warnings and flood alerts in place across England – the highest on record.

Worcester city centre was flooded after record river levels
Worcester city centre was flooded after record river levels. Picture: PA

The River Wye reached its highest levels on record, peaking at more than six metres, with the Environment Agency (EA) describing levels as "exceptional" and residents in Hereford saying they had never seen anything like it.

Homes in Monmouth were evacuated as the organisation warned the river was expected to peak at 7.2 metres by Tuesday morning.

EA manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Dave Throup said the level of flooding is difficult to believe.

Mr Throup, who is from Worcestershire, 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."

Toby Willison, Executive Director of Operations at the Environment Agency, said: “Every home flooded is a tragedy for that family and our hearts go out to all those who have been flooded during Storm Dennis.

“Our teams will continue to work 24/7, alongside the police, fire and rescue, and local authorities, to reduce the risk of flooding and keep communities safe.

“We expect disruptive weather into the middle of this week bringing a significant flood risk for the West Midlands, and there are flood warnings in place across much of England.

“Operational teams are out across England today, We have deployed temporary barriers and are operating 90 pumps across the country.

“We are also ready to operate our large flood defences as required, and so far we have protected nearly 20,000 properties from the impacts of Storm Dennis.

“With the effects of climate change, we are seeing more frequent periods of extreme weather.

“It is important for people to be aware of their flood risk and stay safe by signing up for flood warnings, making a flood plan and remembering not to drive or walk through flood water – it’s not worth the risk.”

The family of Yvonne Booth, who was swept away by floodwater near Tenbury in Worcestershire on Sunday, said they had been left "devastated" after her body was found on Monday.

Members of the public are rescued after flooding in Nantgarw, Wales as Storm Dennis hit the UK
Members of the public are rescued after flooding in Nantgarw, Wales as Storm Dennis hit the UK. Picture: PA

The 55-year-old, from the Great Barr area of Birmingham, was described as a "very much loved member of our family" in a statement from relatives, released through police.

The Met Office issued yellow warnings on Tuesday for snow and ice in Scotland, and on Wednesday and Thursday for more rain in south and north west Wales.

Chief Meteorologist Andy Page said: “Further rain will arrive on Wednesday evening and this is likely to become prolonged and possibly heavy over areas of high ground.

“For example, there is a chance that 60mm of rain could fall in parts of south Wales over 24 hours.

“With the ground already saturated there is a chance of further flooding, members of the public should check their flood risk and stay up to date with flood warnings from Natural Resources Wales, SEPA, NI Direct and the Environment Agency.”