Evacuation of Ironbridge as Storm Franklin brings havoc to UK with floods and 87mph wind

21 February 2022, 11:39 | Updated: 21 February 2022, 17:02

By Emma Soteriou

Hundreds of flood warnings have been issued after Storm Franklin battered the UK, with a rare "severe" warning for the River Severn at the Wharfage, Ironbridge, where rising water levels pose a "significant risk to life".

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More than 450 flood alerts or warnings are in place across the UK after Storm Franklin swept in overnight. Commuters have been told to avoid travelling by train due to floods. The storm brought with it landslides, fallen trees as well as 87mph winds.

Emergency workers in Ironbridge have been telling residents in the Wharfage area to leave immediately. The area is situated behind temporary flood defences installed over the weekend.

Thousands of families across the UK remain without power on Monday, days after Storm Eunice's gale-force winds toppled power lines and cut off their supply.

Travel networks were also thrown into chaos for the third time in a week as Storm Franklin hit.

Train operators urged passengers to cancel or delay their journeys due to several blocked lines causing disruption.

It came after fallen trees and flooding led to many routes being closed off for commuters during rush hour on Monday.

Rotherham station was left fully submerged, with the train tracks no longer being visible, while the London Overground was part suspended due to damage caused by both Storms Eunice and Franklin.

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Trains are unable to call at Rotherham for the rest of the day.
Trains are unable to call at Rotherham for the rest of the day. Picture: Northern

Train operator Northern issued a "do not travel" alert to passengers due to the impact of storms, with severe disruption on many of its routes, including between Sheffield and Manchester, Scarborough and Hull, York and Sheffield, Bradford and Leeds, Chester and Manchester, and Carlisle and Newcastle.

Some 186 flood warnings were issued by the Environment Agency as of Monday morning, with several areas across the country expected to be submerged by rivers bursting their banks.

Emergency evacuation operations had also begun for over 400 homes in Manchester. However, Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig later said they had been stood down in Didsbury.

She wrote on Twitter: "Thankfully after the peak at 4am, emergency evacuation operations on the ground were stood down and we got through the night without any flooding or damage to properties.

"Thanks again to everyone involved and to the hundreds of residents who were impacted."

South Western Railway said Network Rail had cleared more than 50 trees from its network since Friday, but more heavy rain and strong winds on Sunday night caused "even more trees to block the lines and further damage to stations and infrastructure".

It warned that the weather conditions were "likely to hamper efforts to help stranded customers".

Other operators urging passengers not to travel include CrossCountry, Southeastern, TransPennine Express and Avanti West Coast.

Network Rail posted a message on its Kent and Sussex Twitter feed which stated: "Our advice is to stay home if you can as disruption is likely to get worse as the day goes on."

An HGV hit a bridge and burst into flames on the M6.
An HGV hit a bridge and burst into flames on the M6. Picture: Lancs Road Police

Several major road bridges were closed on Monday morning, including the M48 Severn Bridge connecting England and Wales, and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at the Dartford Crossing between Kent and Essex.

National Highways said the M60 in Greater Manchester was also closed between junctions 10 and 11 due to an overturned HGV which had come to rest on the central reservation.

Meanwhile, a lorry fire on the M6 started when high winds caused the vehicle to crash, with the road being closed between junction 27 and 28 as a result, Lancashire Police said.

A post on the Lancs Road Police Twitter account said: "High winds caused this HGV to hit a bridge and burst into flames on M6.

"Driver luckily escaped from cab with help from other motorists and is being assessed at hospital.

"Long delays both N+S between J27/28."

A spokesman for the local fire service said: "By 7am, the fire had been extinguished using four breathing apparatus and three hose reels and the M6 southbound had reopened.

"The driver of the vehicle was treated by paramedics from North West Ambulance Service and all agencies are working in difficult conditions to reopen the northbound side of the M6."

Storm Franklin is the latest to hit the country, with yellow weather warnings in force for wind.

It followed Storm Eunice, which saw at least four people die in the extreme conditions on Friday.

However, the Met Office has said that winds are expected to calm down for the rest of the week, slowly becoming drier and brighter by Monday evening.