Dozens of care home residents were among people evacuated to safety after Storm Christoph brought heavy rain and flooding to parts of northern England.
Homes were deluged following heavy rainfall and snow showers in Cheshire, with roads disrupted and residents in the county warned that river levels were still rising on Thursday.
Around 40 residents were assisted out of the Weaver Court care home in Northwich, Cheshire, by fire crews with dinghies on Thursday afternoon, as most of the town centre laid under water.
Neighbourhood policing inspector for Northwich Jason Murray told the PA news agency: “A decision was made earlier this morning with ourselves and our emergency service partners that it was necessary to evacuate the residents of Weaver Court for their own safety and principally because the electricity to the premises has had to be isolated because of rising water levels.”
People were taken to a leisure centre before being moved on to alternative accommodation, Inspector Murray said.
Earlier on Thursday, Cheshire Fire and Rescue said it was in the process of rescuing 21 people by boat from Lea Court nursing home in the town of Warrington.
Residents were also evacuated overnight in the Didsbury and Northenden areas of Greater Manchester, and Superintendent Julie Westgate, from Cheshire Constabulary, said a number of people had been evacuated in Warrington, Northwich, Chester, Ellesmere Port and Tattenhall.
More than 170 flood warnings remained in place across England at 8pm on Thursday, with one “severe” warning – meaning danger to life – issued for the River Dee at Farndon.
A severe flood warning has been issued for the English River Dee at Farndon in Cheshire, where water levels are expected to peak on Thursday afternoon, according to the Environment Agency.
It said that the “flooding of property is imminent” and that staff were closely monitoring weather forecasts and river levels.
In Northwich, roads into the town centre were closed and pedestrians were asked to avoid the area due to footpaths being “under numerous inches of water”, police said.
Environment Secretary George Eustice chaired a Cobra meeting in response to the ongoing flooding on Thursday afternoon, but reiterated “the danger has not passed”.
In a statement following the meeting, Mr Eustice said: “The water levels remain high and there is the risk of possible further flooding next week so everyone needs to remain vigilant, follow the advice and sign up for flood alerts.”
Gabrielle Burns-Smith, 44, whose home in Lymm flooded, said that she “watched the water coming through the back door” in the early hours of Thursday morning.
She said: “By 3pm yesterday the water outside was shin-deep and by 4pm it was knee-deep, and we were seriously worrying that the house was going to be breached. Then it was.
“We’re still in the house, we can’t go anywhere because we can’t get the car out, the water is just too deep. Both our living rooms are flooded.”
In the early hours of the morning, North Wales Police began evacuating residents from their homes in Bangor-on-Dee after a severe flood warning was issued for the village by Natural Resources Wales.
Around 80 people were evacuated from properties in the Skewen area of Neath after eight streets were flooded and a major incident declared.
Meanwhile, South Wales Police said on Twitter that the body of a man had been recovered from the River Taff near Blackweir in Cardiff on Thursday, with the death being treated as unexplained.
Elsewhere in Wales, emergency teams were called out to protect supplies of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine following flooding at Wrexham Industrial Estate.
All “necessary precautions” were taken to prevent disruption to the manufacture of the jab, according to a spokeswoman for Wockhardt UK, which operates the pharmaceutical manufacturing facility.
On a visit to Disbury, where around 2,000 homes were advised to evacuate, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Environment Agency had used sluice gates and “improvised emergency flood defences”.
“I think 10,000 homes in the Manchester area, in the Didsbury area, have been protected just as a result of what they have been doing overnight,” he told reporters.
“There will be more to come, there will be further rain next week, so it is vital that people who are in potentially affected areas follow the advice and get the Environment Agency flood alerts where they can.”
A severe flood warning for parts of Manchester was stood down on Thursday, with the “worst-case scenario” avoided when the Didsbury Basin did not “significantly overflow”, the city council said.
Following heavy rain and snow, Greater Manchester Police warned of the risk of “treacherous ice” on the roads and urged drivers to be cautious and only travel if essential.
Heavy rain has lashed parts of the country, with provisional figures showing Cleveland in North Yorkshire received more than its average January rainfall in just 48 hours.
Despite weather warnings for rain across most of the UK expiring on Thursday afternoon, yellow alerts for snow and ice remain in some places.
Three yellow weather warnings have been issued by the Met Office, including an ice warning in place until 10am on Friday covering western Scotland, North West England, Northern Ireland and much of Wales.
Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said: “Colder air is now established across the UK as Storm Christoph moves away into the North Sea, and gale-force winds will impact the North East of the country.”