Residents in two towns in Shropshire have been urged to evacuate their homes as fears over flooding continued across the UK.
Rivers hitting record levels are threatening to breach flood barriers as around 600 properties have already been flooded as a result of rain brought by Storm Dennis.
With further heavy rain forecast to fall on already saturated areas of the UK, more damage is expected. In Shropshire, police urged residents in Ironbridge and Bridgnorth to evacuate their properties as the raging River Severn neared its peak.
People were warned they could be putting their own lives and those of the emergency services at risk if they failed to leave, with fears flood barriers would be overtopped.
Chief superintendent Tom Harding, of West Mercia Police, said: “We know residents want to stay in their homes and understand it is an inconvenience for them to leave, but it really is in their best interests to do so.”
The force said an estimated 384 properties have been “significantly impacted by the floods” across Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.
The Environment Agency (EA) has warned that levels on the Rivers Wye and Severn will remain especially high into the weekend, after both broke records this week.
Incredibly busy day again today, flood waters peaking at various times. We have concerns in Ironbridge re: flood defence and increasing flood levels in Bridgnorth. We have officers working Bewdley area and expect high water levels in Shrewsbury, Worcester and Hereford to continue pic.twitter.com/NysSbuutlA— Chief Superintendent Tom Harding (@CSuptHarding) February 18, 2020
BREAKING: Environment Agency confirm to @BBCShropshire this is a major incident in #Ironbridge #floods - new peak expected around 10pm. River level rising still and now real fears for the impact on #Bridgnorth pic.twitter.com/ANLjUZdQmV— Nick Southall (@FootieNick) February 18, 2020
The EA said 599 properties had been flooded across England as of Tuesday afternoon, as a result of the weekend’s storm.
More than 6km of temporary flood barriers have been erected across the country and flood defences have protected nearly 25,000 properties from the impacts of the storm, the agency said.
But record-breaking river levels and continued rainfall means further flooding is possible across much of the country.
EA executive director of flood and coastal risk management John Curtin said: “We expect further disruptive weather into tomorrow and Thursday, bringing a significant flood risk to the West Midlands, and there are flood warnings in place across much of England.”
The Met Office has issued yellow weather for persistent rain in Wales and the north-west of England for Wednesday and Thursday, and the north of England on Friday into Saturday.
In Monmouth, mountain rescue teams evacuated an elderly man from his home on a flooded road by breaking down his back door with a sledgehammer and taking him to safety on a raft.
Other neighbours on the A466 ventured to a nearby Lidl supermarket on canoes to pick up their food shopping.
Meanwhile, drinking water supplies were hit after a treatment works in Monmouthshire flooded.
Welsh Water asked people in Monmouth to reduce their usage.
EA manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Dave Throup said the level of flooding leaves affected parts in “uncharted territory”.
There was relief in Upton upon Severn and Uckinghall in Worcestershire on Tuesday morning that flood defences had not been breached.
But Throup urged people in those areas to “remain vigilant”.
He said: “There may be some short-term drops in levels but they may well rise again. We’re certainly not out of the woods yet, there is quite a long way to go with this flood.”
Meanwhile, the River Trent, which had prompted a severe flood warning for Burton-on-Trent, also peaked at record levels of just below four metres on Tuesday.
Severe flood warnings remained in place for the River Severn at Upton upon Severn, Ironbridge and Uckinghall, the River Wye and the River Lugg at Hampton Bishop on Tuesday afternoon.
In Wales, there were two severe warnings in place on the River Wye at Monmouth in what Natural Resources Wales called both “defended” and “undefended” areas.
Over the weekend, the River Taff in Pontypridd reached the highest level in more than 40 years and the River Usk reached the highest level since 1979.
Storm Dennis claimed the life of Yvonne Booth, from the Great Barr area of Birmingham, who was swept away by floodwater near Tenbury in Worcestershire on Sunday.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has faced criticism from the Labour Party for not visiting communities affected by flooding.
The RSPCA said it has responded to more than 200 emergencies during Storm Dennis, including a pony which had been trapped in a flooded field beside the River Wey in Guildford.
Rescuers brought the pony, which they have named Jemima Puddle Duck, to safety by accompanying her on a tethered swim.
A former wildlife officer has also warned that the extreme wet weather has flooded many low-lying badger setts in North Wales and damaged the structures of those on high ground.
Mal Ingham, who used to work for Wirral Council and has monitored local wildlife for over 30 years, said the conditions will have a “tremendous impact” on the animals.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.