Thursday 21 January 2021

"A mixture of anxiety and disbelief!" Almost the whole of England, Wales and Northern Ireland are subject to flooding warnings for rain until Thursday morning: Thousands of people were being evacuated from their homes overnight as Storm Christoph caused widespread flooding across the UK.

Thousands of people were being evacuated from their homes overnight as Storm Christoph caused widespread flooding across the UK. Some 2,000 properties in the East Didsbury, West Didsbury and Northenden areas of Manchester were due to be evacuated on Wednesday night because of rising water levels, the city council said. Elsewhere people were also asked to leave their homes in parts of Ruthin and Bangor on Dee in North Wales, and Maghull in Merseyside. Authorities have been monitoring water levels at the River Mersey overnight. Pictures shared on social media in the early hours of Thursday, and the Environment Agency's river level chart for the Mersey at Northenden, appear to show levels falling - but more rain is forecast for Thursday and Friday.

People were being asked to leave overnight as the Environment Agency has issued two 'severe' threat to life warnings for the area. Those who are clinically vulnerable, positive for coronavirus or self-isolating, will be offered emergency accommodation in hotels. Others will be able to go to Wythenshawe Forum if they can't stay with friends or relatives. Greater Manchester Police assistant chief constable Nick Bailey said earlier in the day a large number of vulnerable people were being evacuated. "We have identified about 160 people that will be moved," he said. He added that up to 3,000 properties across the Greater Manchester region could be affected by tonight's flooding It comes as heavy rain and snow continued to fall across England and Wales, with many rivers at "dangerously high levels", the Environment Agency said. The four 'severe flood warnings' in place by the Environment Agency as of 6am on Thursday are for, River Mersey at East Didsbury, River Mersey at West Didsbury and Northenden, River Bollin and Agden Brook at Little Bollington (south of Dunham Massey), River Bollin at Heatley (between Dunham Massey and Lymm)

Amber and yellow weather warnings were in force until Thursday morning for the storm, which was also threatening to bring up to 30cm of snow to northern areas. Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier urged people to heed the flood warnings and evacuate their properties when told to do so. A Manchester City Council spokesman told the PA news agency that around 2,000 properties would be evacuated. Greater Manchester Police assistant chief constable Nick Bailey said a flood basin in Didsbury, which takes water from the River Mersey, was full and was expected to "over-top" at some point during the night. An emergency rest centre was set up at Wythenshawe Forum and hotels were also being used for those forced to flee. Lib Dem councillor Richard Kilpatrick said he was among those who had to evacuate overnight after police came knocking on doors in The Beeches. He said: "The atmosphere has been a mixture of anxiety and disbelief I think.
More heavy rain falling on the already saturated ground will bring significant surface and river water flooding in parts of Greater Manchester today, tomorrow (Thursday) and into the weekend, which could cause damage to buildings in some communities. "Environment Agency teams are out on the ground clearing grilles, screens, deploying temporary flood defences and closing flood barriers. We urge people to keep away from swollen rivers and not to drive through flood water - it is often deeper than it looks and just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float your car." Earlier, Manchester council said: "The GM Strategic Coordination Group for Storm Christoph and the Environment Agency have enacted a Severe Flood Warning covering parts of Didsbury, Chorlton and Northenden as levels of the River Mersey continue to rise. "This level of flood warning means that evacuations have started due to the potential risk of flooding. There is also a particular focus on supporting vulnerable households. "The council is working with colleagues in Greater Manchester Police, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue and Environment Agency to proactively evacuate homes before any flooding has taken place, which is anticipated in the early hours of January 21. "This is to ensure people's safety. "All flood basins have been opened, but river levels are expected to rise this evening and the decision has been made to evacuate people in a safe and controlled way this evening, rather than waiting to assess the flooding impact overnight.

Elsewhere in Greater Manchester homes were evacuated in Leigh as murky floodwater filled the streets. Homes in the Higher Folds estate have been flooded and some are losing power after Pen Leach Brook, which runs beside the estate, has burst its banks, according to residents. Kerry Cunningham watched as the water crept up her front path before it inevitably began pouring inside. Just a few hours later, Kerry's 84-year-old mother, whom she lives within Stirling Close, had to be carried out by four firefighters are water flooded the ground floor of their home and tripped the electrics. She told the Manchester Evening News: "This street has bad drainage, and a few times over the last few years the water has risen up to garden fences. "But I've never known it like this. "My neighbours' and I have the first houses on the street and have been hit worst. It's just unfortunate with the rain that the stream at the end of the street is also breaching it banks so there's nowhere to pump the water too. "My mum is going to stay at my sister's house as we have no power or heat at the moment. The electric tripped due to the floodwater and not safe to switch it back on, and we didn't want mum getting cold.

The plaza outside the Lowry Hotel was flooded as the River Irwell burst its banks between Manchester city centre and Salford. Pictures shared with the Manchester Evening News showed walkways and a staircase submerged in water on Wednesday afternoon. Benches and bins outside the five-star hotel stood were also left surrounded by several inches of water when the river spilt over. Police officers could be seen guarding the plaza, while a sign pinned to one the barriers surrounding it warned of the risk of flooding. Flood warnings are also in places along the River Irwell in Radcliffe, Bury and Ramsbottom, and the River Roch in Rochdale. North Wales Police said its officers were helping the fire service to evacuate homes in Ruthin, Denbighshire, and urged people to avoid the area. The force tweeted: "Officers have been called to assist @DenbighshireCC and @NWFRS in #Ruthin, where some homes are being evacuated. "Regrettably, people who do not live locally are driving to the area to 'see the floods'. Please do not stretch our resources by adding to the problem." The force also urged residents of Bangor on Dee to evacuate after National Resources Wales issued a severe flood warning for the area. North Wales Police tweeted: "Severe flood risk: Emergency services are asking residents of Bangor on Dee to evacuate properties and proceed to Ysgol Sant Dunawd immediately. "DO NOT try to leave the area yourself. 4×4 vehicles will be utilised by emergency services to evacuate residents from the school." Wrexham Council said it was "working with partners to address any need for temporary rest centres for residents likely to be affected".
Meanwhile, residents in Maghull were advised to leave their properties as soon as possible after a severe flood warning was issued, Sefton Council said. A council spokesman said heavy rain had led to raised water levels and flooding from the River Alt which was set to increase. "Water levels at Dover Brook, near the River Alt, reached 2.5m today, which is unprecedented for that area, modelling from the Environment Agency, including anticipated overnight rainfall, will take that level to 3.5m," the spokesman said. Downing Street said Covid-secure facilities would be available for any people forced to evacuate as a result of the weather. Downing Street said Covid-secure facilities would be available for any people forced to evacuate as a result of the weather. Mr Johnson said steps were being taken to ensure the transport and energy networks were prepared so that electricity outages would not be "severe" and that there were sufficient supplies of sandbags.

He told reporters: "There are some times where I have been to scenes where, alas, people have decided not to obey the advice and not evacuated. "It is their right not to do so if they choose - it's always people's right to stay wherever they are. "But it really is advisable - follow the advice. If you are told to leave your home then you should do so." Mr Johnson chaired a Cobra crisis meeting on Wednesday after major incidents were declared in Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire. The Environment Agency has issued a further 137 flood warnings across England, with 227 less severe flood alerts, mainly across the Midlands and north of the country. Almost the whole of England, Wales and Northern Ireland are subject to yellow weather warnings for rain until Thursday morning, with a more serious amber warning stretching from the East Midlands to the Lake District.

The amber alert warns of the risk of flooding and deep floodwaters which could pose a risk to life, and there are further warnings for snow and ice in Scotland. An amber warning for snow in parts of southern Scotland warned around 30cm could fall in areas above 400m, with up to 10cm likely to accumulate in lower regions until 8am on Thursday. Train operator Northern warned its customers not to travel on many of its routes in the north-west of England due to the torrential rain and flooding across the region. Northern said routes covering the north of Manchester, Lancashire and Cumbria are affected by a "do not travel" alert, with customers asked not to travel before 12pm on Thursday. Met Office forecaster Grahame Madge described Storm Christoph as "quite a slow-moving system" which is bringing "a variety of weather" to the UK. There is a risk of further snow later in the week as Storm Christoph makes its way east, with accumulations expected in Scotland, northern England and parts of Northern Ireland, Mr Madge added.

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