Flood-hit Midlands towns warned to expect '10 days of difficulty’

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

Residents in areas already suffering from flooding have been warned that they face another “10 days of difficulty” as more rain is set to drench the Midlands.

Torrential downpours have already seen flood barriers breached and homes ruined but forecasters predict a brief respite will only be met with more wet weather.

Chris Bainger, from the Environment Agency, said: "We have a bit of respite, we've just got showers moving through over the next couple of days.

“But coming into Friday we have another band of rain coming through that's going to be up in the Welsh mountains and that's going to be coming to us... perhaps Saturday.

"We've already planned another 10 days of being on 24/7 – manning of our incident rooms and having operational staff at all of our barriers.”

Meanwhile the Met Office warned that parts of Wales and northern England could see between 60 to 80mm of rain on Friday as the storm hits the UK.

Strong winds are then forecast for much of England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Saturday, reaching 70mph in coastal areas and up to 60mph inland.

The Met Office’s chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said further flooding is also possible with rain forecast to fall on already saturated ground.

Flooding in Ironbridge, Shropshire, as residents in riverside properties in the area have been told to leave their homes and businesses (PA)
Flooding in Bewdley, Worcestershire, has already caused severe damage to homes (PA)

Flood warnings

Flooding along parts of the River Severn, which has reached close to its highest levels in some areas, is likely until at least Sunday, the Environment Agency said.

A severe “danger to life” flood warning covering the river at the Wharfage in Ironbridge, Shropshire, remains in place on Thursday, while 82 flood warnings and 125 flood alerts had been issued.

Rising waters pushed back the town’s temporary flood barriers towards a pub and other businesses, sparking fears that the defences could be fully breached.

Read more: Corbyn labels Johnson 'part-time prime minister' over flooding

Speaking in Ironbridge on Thursday, environment secretary George Eustice said the reason for his delay in visiting the town was to allow for the emergency services to “deal with the immediate impacts”.

Asked why Boris Johnson was yet to visit, Eustice said: “When he appointed me two weeks ago he made it clear he wanted me to lead on this.

“I have kept him regularly informed with what is happening.”

Flood barriers breached

Residents in the Worcestershire town of Bewdley were forced to evacuate earlier after the river spilled over barriers at Beales Corner.

And in East Yorkshire, residents were being evacuated from the village of East Cowick after the River Aire broke its banks.

This month is already the second wettest February on record, with the total average rainfall from February 1 to 25 measuring 179.3mm, the Met Office said. The figure to beat is 193.4mm, which was set in February 1990.

Read more: Homes evacuated as River Aire floods in East Yorkshire

Storm Jorge is forecast to track across the north west of the UK before clearing on Saturday afternoon.

Because the Spanish meteorological service named the storm on Thursday, it is convention for all other national services to use that name, the Met Office said.

Gundersen said: “This weekend we’ll see another named storm bring strong winds to parts of the UK with several wind and rain warnings in place.

“We have issued rain warnings for parts of Wales and northern England, where rain will be heaviest and we could see 60-80mm possible over the highest ground.”

Flood water surrounds Worcester city centre as residents in riverside properties were told to leave their homes after temporary barriers were overwhelmed (PA)

The Republic of Ireland is expected to face the strongest and most damaging winds, Gunderson added.

The storm will be followed by snow over the hills and mountains in the north of the UK and rail and hail in the south. Winds are forecast to ease slightly on Sunday.

Yellow weather warnings for rain are in place for the north west and south west of England, parts of Wales and Northern Ireland between midday on Friday and 9am on Saturday.

Flooding ‘an opportunity’ for job creation, says PM

The Met Office has also issued a yellow wind warning for a 24-hour period from midday on Saturday covering most of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and south-west Scotland.

Boris Johnson has declined to say whether he will be visiting areas where people have been made homeless by recent floods, while visiting the headquarters of a charity for the homeless.

Speaking at The Connection in central London, the PM instead focused on how the “massive issue” of flooding “presents an opportunity” for job creation.

Tewkesbury Abbey and a children's playground at the confluence of the Rivers Severn and Avon is surrounded by flood waters (Getty)

He said: “There’s a massive issue about flood defences, and we have put £2.6 billion in and we will be investing another £4 billion.

“This is something that is absolutely critical for our country to tackle.

“I think it also presents an opportunity, because in the whole business of green technology flood defences, planting trees, all the ways in which we are going to insulate our country against flooding, there are opportunities for job creation as well.”

Boris Johnson's response to the floods was criticised by Labour (PA)

His comments came a day after a senior minister said the PM was “very much in control” of the government’s response to the floods, amid criticism the prime minister has failed to visit the communities affected.

In the Commons on Wednesday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Johnson of being no more than a “part-time prime minister”.

However, housing secretary Robert Jenrick said such visits were often a “distraction” which took away valuable resources from the emergency services.

England has more than double its average February rainfall: Environment Agency

England has received more than 200% of its average February rainfall, according to the Environment Agency, with some areas experiencing a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours.

Toby Willison, executive director of operations at the Environment Agency, said: “Our operational teams continue to work night and day to protect communities alongside the River Severn, which is experiencing record levels.

“River levels will remain exceptionally high on the Severn for some time and communities, in particular Shrewsbury, Bewdley, Bridgnorth and Ironbridge, should prepare for potentially ongoing severe flooding.”

Flood barriers which have moved due to the weight of water in the River Severn in the Wharfage area of Ironbridge, Shropshire (PA)
Houses in Bewdley, Worcestershire, lie surrounded by floodwater after days of rain (PA)

Storm Jorge is the fifth storm to hit the UK since December 6 last year and third in February,

Met Office forecaster Craig Snell said it was “not uncommon” to see so many storms in such a short period of time.


Operational teams have put up more than 6km of temporary flood barriers across the country and flood defences have protected more than 34,184 properties over the last week.

In East Yorkshire, residents were evacuated from the village of East Cowick after the River Aire broke its banks.

Read more: Workers should use coronavirus self-isolation as sick days, says Government

East Riding of Yorkshire Council said in a statement its staff along with teams from the Coastguard and Humberside Fire & Rescue were going to door-to-door in the village, where sandbags have been deployed to protect around 60 properties.

A powerline underwater in Snaith, East Yorkshire, where locals have criticised the lack of help they have received from the authorities (PA)

East Cowick was the council's "main area of concern" but it had also arranged sandbags to protect 100 properties in Snaith, where residents were advised to evacuate from their homes on Wednesday afternoon as water from the Aire and surrounding washlands continued to rise.

Flood warnings remain in place in the Snaith area, where locals have criticised the lack of help they have received from the authorities.