Areas of the UK are in “uncharted territory” after record levels of flooding, with more heavy rain forecast for later in the week.
Ten severe flood warnings, indicating a danger to life, were in place on Tuesday morning across England and Wales in the aftermath of Storm Dennis.
Communities across the country are counting the cost of the weekend’s storm, which has left hundreds of properties flooded, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced criticism for not visiting affected areas.
The latest warning, for the River Severn in Telford, prompted the evacuation of around 30 properties as water pressure caused the road surface to crack and levels threatened to overtop the barrier.
Residents of the Wharfage, located along the river, were being taken to a cafe on the High Street in Ironbridge, while 21 cars parked in the area were taken to a nearby park and ride to save them from flooding, Telford and Wrekin Council said.
The council said the river’s flood peak was moving towards the Ironbridge Gorge and was expected to arrive there later on Tuesday, while the Environment Agency said river levels could reach 22ft (6.7m) by the afternoon.
Our teams are working hard to support residents in #Ironbridge. There's a rest centre at Cleo’s Café for anyone evacuated & we're asking people stay away from the area as river levels are rising & due to peak around 2pm. Chief exec @David_Sidaway1 explains more #stormdennis pic.twitter.com/WMdiDibwFe
— Telford & Wrekin Council (@TelfordWrekin) February 18, 2020
“Consequently, flooding of property and roads along the Wharfage in Ironbridge is potentially imminent,” the agency warned.
It comes after the River Wye reached its highest levels on record on Monday, peaking at around 20ft (6m), with the Environment Agency (EA) describing levels as “exceptional” and residents in Hereford saying they had never seen anything like it.
EA manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Dave Throup said the level of flooding is difficult to believe.
Mr Throup, who is from Worcestershire, tweeted on Monday night: “I’ve seen things today I would not have believed. Large parts of my home town and village are underwater tonight.
“This is not normal flooding, we are in uncharted territory.”
I’ve seen things today I would not have believed.
Large parts of my home town and village are underwater tonight.
This is not normal flooding, we are in uncharted territory.
So sorry for everyone who has flooded.
Back tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/jWtvBd4DIV
— Dave Throup (@DaveThroupEA) February 17, 2020
West Mercia Police advised people in Upton-upon-Severn and Uckinghall in Worcestershire to evacuate on Monday evening due to rising levels on the River Severn.
Assistant Chief Constable Geoff Wessell said there was a “level of relief” for Upton-upon-Severn on Tuesday morning as flood defences appeared not to have been breached.
He told BBC Breakfast: “It’s not overtopped. Preparations were made. We’ve had good support from the locals to leave if they needed to. But a level of relief for us.”
Mr Wessell advised people to remain cautious, not to drive through floodwater and to remain ready to leave their homes if they need to.
The family of Yvonne Booth, who was swept away by floodwater near Tenbury in Worcestershire on Sunday, said they had been left “devastated” after her body was found on Monday.
The 55-year-old, from the Great Barr area of Birmingham, was described as a “very much loved member of our family” in a statement from relatives, released through police.
Other severe flood warnings remain in place for the River Severn at Upton upon Severn and Uckinghall, the River Wye at Hereford and Hampton Bishop, the River Trent at Burton upon Trent and the River Lugg at Hampton Bishop.
In Wales, there are two severe warnings in place on the River Wye at Monmouth in what Natural Resources Wales called both “defended” and “undefended” areas.
Homes in Monmouth were evacuated and the organisation said the river had gone above seven metres by Tuesday morning.
Heavy and blustery showers will develop today, especially on this line crossing from west to east across England and Wales this afternoon pic.twitter.com/z6uJX3oQv8
— Met Office (@metoffice) February 18, 2020
The Prime Minister has resisted calls to chair a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee Cobra to tackle the flooding crisis, despite criticism from the Labour Party.
Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard said it was a “disgrace” that Mr Johnson had “refused” to visit affected communities.
Around 1,000 staff were on duty, with more than three miles (5km) of flood barriers deployed and 90 pumps in action, the EA said.
It warned the flood risk continues, with further heavy rain forecast in the North of England for Wednesday and Thursday, possibly falling on already flooded areas.
Met Office meteorologist Marco Petagna said Tuesday will bring a brief respite from the worst of the weather for most of the UK, with sunny spells and showers, but warned areas of Wales could see downpours.
“With the ground being so saturated, it’s not going to help the situation,” he said.
“And there’s more persistent rain coming on Wednesday. There will be wet and windy weather across the UK on Wednesday and Thursday, with the heavy rain coming back.”
The Met Office has issued two yellow weather warnings for snow and ice over parts of Scotland, with further warnings of persistent rain in Wales for Wednesday and Thursday, which could be extended to the North West of England.