Homes and businesses flooded as river bursts banks

Parts of the Midlands have been left in the grip of flooding, with homes and businesses inundated and dozens of drivers caught out by the rapidly rising water.

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service said it had rescued 97 people and a dog from 43 different incidents where vehicles had become stuck in water, in the past 24 hours alone.

Six people and a pet dog were also rescued by boat during two separate rescues in Evesham, Worcestershire, on Friday morning, the brigade said, as the river Avon burst its banks.

The river has reached its highest level in the town since the damaging floods of 2007, and a number of homes and properties have been inundated, according to Environment Agency (EA) area manager Dave Throup.

The town’s community hospital has also closed to new admissions and outpatient clinics cancelled, although the NHS trust which runs the site stressed it was a “precaution”, adding patients and staff were safe.

A Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust spokesman said: “Due to flooding, road closures and an anticipated rise in river levels this afternoon, Evesham Community Hospital is now closed to new admissions.

Autumn weather Nov 15th 2019
Steps are being taken to protect around 20 businesses and homes threatening by flooding in Stratford (Environment Agency/PA)

“The hospital’s minor injury unit, Waterside Day Centre and dental access centre are also now closed.

“Patients currently in the hospital are safe and unaffected and don’t anticipate any disruption to the care we can provide to them.

“We would however ask family and friends not to attempt to visit.”

Meanwhile, the EA has been urging people and drivers not to risk travelling through flood water, pointing to the risk of becoming stranded and then tying up the emergency services, as well as other underwater hazards like blown drain covers.

They are also warning people the water itself is not clean and could pose a risk to health.

Flood barriers have also gone up in hotspots like Upton-upon-Severn, in Worcestershire, and – for the first time – Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, where the Avon is also rising.

In Stratford, the EA has been putting up a temporary barrier protecting 20 properties and businesses, near the landmark Royal Shakespeare Company theatre building on the riverside.

It is the first time the temporary barrier will have been deployed in anger and with the Avon set to peak in the town at 7.30pm on Friday, the authorities have said they are taking no chances.

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service also urged people to take extra care around waterways and floodwater over the weekend despite a forecast respite in the wet weather.

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