Homes at-risk as River Severn flooding nears 20-year high
Homes were at-risk of damage in Bewdley as fears over the worst flooding for 20 years intensified today.
Towns along the River Severn have been braced for further flooding today amid fresh safety warnings.
Environment Agency officials said downpours brought by successive weekend storms have swelled rivers to "exceptional" levels bringing disruption.
The River Severn in Bewdley was hitting its highest level in two decades today, said its regional manager Dave Throup.
In total 48 flood warnings were in place across Staffordshire and Worcestershire, mainly affecting the River Severn.
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It came after police named a woman killed in flood waters near Wyre Forest as Yvonne Booth from Great Barr.
The clean-up was also under way in a mobile home park in south Staffordshire damaged by flooding.
People faced a nervous wait as the river rose at Bewdley with flood barriers working to protect homes and businesses.
Further upstream in Ironbridge people were being evacuated from their homes amid warnings over threats to life.
In Bridgnorth the river was also set to peak today while there were also concerns downstream in Stourport and Upton-upon-Severn.
Bewdley has been largely protected from the widescale flooding to hit other areas thanks to its flood defences.
The town is better safeguarded since a major flood in November 2000, the worst for over 50 years hit the town.
Bewdley was extensively flooded three times in the space of six weeks.
Flood defence works were completed at a cost of £11 million in the town in March 2006.
This year flooding has hit Beales Corner at Wribbenhall with waters breaching the banks near Stourport Road.
It was also affecting the road to Lickhill Manor and Acacia Avenue and access to Lickhill Caravan Park.
West Mercia Police said flood barriers at Severnside North and Severnside South are expected to hold.
However, the barriers at Beales Corner may not withstand the rising water levels and could be ‘out-flanked’.
A spokesman said a rest centre would be established to accommodate residents who have to leave their properties.
Superintendent Mark Colquhoun from West Mercia Police and on behalf of the multi-agency flood response, said: “Safety remains our absolute priority and as such we are keeping a very close eye on Bewdley today and we expect that some properties will be at risk of flooding, particularly if the Beales Corner barrier is ‘out-flanked’.
“We will have officers in the town speaking to residents whose homes may be at risk of flooding. We will also put road closures in place as necessary.”
The Environment Agency said further rain forecast for tomorrow could exacerbate the problems.
Barriers were being extended higher today by Environment Agency workers.
A spokesman said: "We expect river levels to remain high for the next few days.
"Scattered showers are expected over the next 24 hours with prolonged rainfall forecast from midday Wednesday.
"We are closely monitoring the situation and checking defences.
"Please move possessions and valuables off the ground or to safety and activate any property flood protection products you may have such as flood barriers and air brick covers."
Regional manager Mr Throup added: "We are confident the main flood defences will be fine at Bewdley but there may well be some flooding around Beales Corner and downstream again."
Stourport was also affected by flooding around Sandy Lane, the town's Marina and Severnside including Broaches Meadow.
A flood alert also remained in place for the River Stour at Kidderminster.
Worcester has also been extensively hit by the rising river levels.
Parts of the A38 in Staffordshire remained under water for people travelling to and from Lichfield and Cannock areas.
It was closed between Barton and Branston last night with the roadway flooded, said Highways England.
Heavy traffic was bringing queues on the neighbouring A515 at Yoxall today.
The National Memorial Arboretum, in Alrewas, has reopened after being closed on Monday due to flooding.
A spokesman said: "Some areas of site are still impassable so contact us in advance if you intend to see a particular memorial."
However Drayton Manor Theme Park, in Staffordshire, will be closed all week in a blow to the attraction during the half-term school holiday.
Workers have been cleaning up at the theme park which was hit by downpours which caused its lake to breach.
The park, which had initially shut for three days due to the flooding, will now be closed until February 29
William Bryan, managing director at Drayton Manor Theme Park, said: "We are doing everything we can to ensure the site is safe and secure for visitors to enjoy from next week.
He added: “The Drayton Manor team has been working tirelessly to get the site back to normal as quickly as possible, and we will re-open to the public for our Thomas & Friends weekends starting on Saturday 29 February.
“February half term is a popular time of year at the park and we understand many visitors will be disappointed to hear the news, but due to the extent of the damage we would be unable to offer the quality of experience we and our guests expect.
"As always, the safety of our guests and staff is our utmost priority, and we are doing everything we can to ensure the site is safe and secure for visitors to enjoy from next week.
“We apologise again for any inconvenience caused and look forward to welcoming visitors again soon.”
Flood waters were beginning to recede in Stafford today after parts of the town centre were left under water.
Silkmore Lane, in Stafford, had been closed leaving resulting bus services affected.
Council bosses said Riverside Undercroft car park has reopened this morning.
Up to 45 homes on the site, between Smestow Brook and the adjacent River Stour, were hit by flood waters.
Warnings were in place in Bridgnorth where the river was yet to peak as the Environment Agency told how water levels could reach 17.7ft (5.4m) tonight.
Flooding was affecting properties on Severnside along with Severn Terrace, Riverside and local caravan parks.
A landslide caused a home to become flooded with mud, water and rubble, off the A442 near Bridgnorth.
It became "surrounded by dirt" when the banks to the lane behind collapsed during the storm.
Mounds of soil and branches were scattered across the road while silt and floodwater poured down the lane towards the house.
The homeowner, a woman, had to evacuate the building while workers from the nearby Apley Estate and Samco construction company came to her aid.
As a result of the damage, the house was gutted of its belongings during a salvage operation while diggers were used to clear the debris which shut the road.
Tributes paid to flood victim
Specialist police officers are supporting the family of a Great Barr woman who died after being swept into flood waters brought in by Storm Dennis.
Yvonne Booth, aged 55, was swept into floodwater near a bridge which crosses the River Teme, near Tenbury Wells, around six miles from Rock in Wyre Forest.
Her body was recovered during a search and rescue operation by police in the flood which swept into the market town on Sunday.
Chief Superintendent Tom Harding from West Mercia Police said: "Whilst formal identification has not yet taken place, we believe this to be Yvonne, who tragically was swept into flood water on Sunday.
"Specially trained officers have given her family this terrible news and are supporting them.”
Mrs Booth's family issued an image of her with her late husband and her son taken around 10 years ago.
In a tribute they said: "Yvonne is a very much loved member of our family and we are all devastated by this news.
“We appreciate the continued support from the emergency services."
Police previously said a man had been rescued near Eastham Bridge, over the River Teme, near Tenbury Wells, also on Sunday.
The Prime Minister resisted calls to chair a meeting of the Government's emergency committee, Cobra, to tackle the flooding crisis, despite criticism from the Labour Party.
Luke Pollard, shadow environment secretary, said it was a "disgrace" that Boris Johnson had "refused" to visit affected communities.
West Mercia Police said residents in Upton upon Severn and Uckinghall, in Worcestershire, were advised to evacuate, with water levels expected to peak.
WATCH: Latest Met Office forecast
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."