Watch: Bewdley: Homes flooded and residents in tears as barriers breached
Aerial photos have revealed the shocking extent of flooding in a Worcestershire town after flood barriers were breached overnight.
Homes and businesses were left submerged underwater in the town of Bewdley on Saturday morning after floodwater from the River Severn started gushing over barriers in the middle of the night.
The river rose to near-record levels, overwhelming the temporary defences which had been put in place earlier in the week in a bid to protect buildings from the impact of storm.
Barriers on Beales Corner were breached by the water and it spilt into nearby streets and properties.
Photos show buildings almost completely submerged underwater and the river’s level nearly reaching the top of the town’s bridge.
The river was expected to peak at 5.5m in Bewdley with the water level expected to stay high for several days.
Across the UK, river levels are now forecast to be similar to those of the February 2020 floods, which were the worst to hit the area in 20 years.
Flood warnings remain in place along the length of the River Severn including at Bewdley, Blackstone and Stourport.
Councillor Simon Geraghty, of Worcestershire County Council, said: "We recognise the impact that Storm Christoph and the subsequent flooding has had, and will continue to have, on residents, businesses and local communities across the county.
"The recent rainfall that we've seen, has led to some areas of the county being flooded in a matter of weeks.
"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our front-line staff and the emergency services teams who are working tirelessly to keep the residents of Worcestershire as safe as possible.
"This has been made even more difficult given the challenging and rapidly developing situation in addition to dealing with an emergency during a pandemic and in national lockdown."
Dave Throup, Environment Agency manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire, tweeted: "Sadly our flood defence at Beales Corner were compromised overnight.
"We're responding on-site with partners. Other defences at Bewdley all ok."
Irene Buxton, 70, who lives close to the defences told the BBC she was woken by a "crash" as the barriers collapsed last night.
She said: "I looked out of the window and it was like a tidal wave going towards the town.
"The water is in my hall and in my kitchen and we're just battling to keep it out of the living room."
The Severn had been rising steeply since Storm Christoph brought heavy rain at the start of the week and started spilling over its banks from Wednesday.
In Worcester, at-risk householders are being contacted by the city council and offered rest-centre accommodation.
This weekend the wet conditions will be replaced by freezing temperatures, prompting a yellow weather warning for snow and ice across the Midlands and much of the UK.
Watch: Government to boost support for flood-hit areas