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More rain forecast as River Severn peaks amid continued flood warnings

By Jamie Brassington | Bewdley | Environment | Published:

Flood-hit towns along the River Severn are braced for further rain as water levels continue to threaten to breach barriers.

The River Severn has breached its bank onto grassed land by Bewdley Bridge. Image: centraldroneimaging.co.uk

The river hit its highest level in the early hours today in Bewdley since damaging floods struck in the town in November 2000.

Officials feared the barriers at Beales Corner may have been overwhelmed overnight but the defences held firm.

Homes were evacuated in the area as a precaution, as they were upriver in parts of Ironbridge and Bridgnorth.

Flood waters have also reached some gardens and parkland next to the river in Bewdley. Image: centraldroneimaging.co.uk

The Environment Agency said the worst had passed for now but advised river levels would remain high "for a few more days".

It comes amid forecasts for further rain showers today and tomorrow before the weather calms into the weekend.

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Warning for flood onlookers

The barriers in Bewdley have been doing their job, despite a "remarkable" amount of water still working its way down the river channel.

A steady stream of curious onlookers have been drawn to the historic town's main bridge - currently closed - to see how close the water has come to topping the barriers.

West Mercia Police tweeted: "We are aware of people trying to get close to floodwater in Bewdley to take pictures - please be sensible and don’t put yourselves at risk.

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"Stay away from flood areas if you don’t have a genuine reason to be there."

Hereford and Worcester Fire Service also warned people against taking the risk of getting too close to floodwaters simply to get pictures.

"Stay away from flood areas if you don't have a genuine reason to be there," the brigade said.

Residents are carrying on as normal despite the water rushing past a few yards away, with businesses open as normal.

The closure of the main road has seen community members setting up a free bus route, with a vintage double-decker taking people from one side of the town.

Flood waters have also reached rear gardens of some riverside homes.

Homeowners were put on alert for flooding last night as many people asked to evacuate.

Water breached the banks on Severnside North covering parkland at off Stourport Road at Wribbenhall.

WATCH: How Bewdley is coping with flood threat

Bewdley flood barriers in place amid high River Severn water levels

But there were fears that water would flow over barriers at Beales Corner due to the expected high river levels.

The River Severn peaked at 17.1ft (5.24m) as of 6am today.

The highest recorded peak of the River Severn in Bewdley was 18.4ft (5.56m) where the town was hit by a flood in November 2000.

The scale of the swollen River Severn in Bewdley is shown from above. Image: centraldroneimaging.co.uk

Bewdley has been largely protected from the widescale flooding to hit other areas thanks to its flood defences.

The town is better safeguarded since the major flood of 2000, the worst for over 50 years hit the town.

Bewdley was extensively flooded three times in the space of six weeks.

People walking past the temporary flood defences in Bewdley

Flood defence works were completed at a cost of £11 million in the town in March 2006.

Dave Throup, Environment Agency manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire, said: "As it stands, our defences are all holding up.

"There's huge amount of water against them so we're monitoring that very closely at the moment. But at the moment things are okay at Bewdley."

Attention is starting to turn to the situation down-river, where levels in Worcester - which had dropped back in the last two days - are expected to rise again.

Mr Throup said: "Further down towards Upton-upon-Severn, we still have severe flood warnings in place there and that's because we do expect levels to rise again slightly and they are already exceptionally high.

"So we will be monitoring that again very closely through today with staff at Upton."

People eating by in front of temporary flood defences in Bewdley

As time goes on the water will feed down into Gloucestershire, where "some big levels" are expected later.

"The only saving factor there is there's not much water coming down the River Avon," Mr Throup said.

"So that may allow things to spread out a little bit.

"Unfortunately it's not out of the woods, even then, because we're looking at rainfall for today, tomorrow and right through the weekend, which potentially could affect the tops of the catchments, which is just not where we want to be at all.

"But we will be prepared, so we're working with our forecasters on that for scenarios going through the weekend."

Police did hit out at people who were removing protective barriers close to the flood defences yesterday.

It comes after members of the public have been seen members of the public moving the fencing.

Superintendent Mark Colquhoun, from West Mercia Police, and on behalf of the multi-agency flood response, said: “Safety remains our number one priority and we would firstly ask people not to move the protective fencing near to the barriers which are in place for safety reasons.

“We would also advise that people in the local area whose properties are potentially at risk of flooding consider making alternative accommodation arrangements as it is likely water levels will continue to rise.

"This advice also applies to residents of local caravan and park home sites.”

A steam train on the Severn Valley Railway passes through Bewdley with its flood barriers holding back the River Severn

A rest centre has been set up at Wyre Forest House, Stourport Road, for anyone who may need it.

Officers from West Mercia Police and Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service were in the town yesterday along with colleagues from other agencies to inform those people whose properties may be at risk from flooding and to offer advice and support.

A severe flood warning remains in place for Ironbridge, where the River Severn is still said to be a danger to life after peaking at 21.4ft (6.52m) on Tuesday evening.

Flood warnings are also still in place for Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury and for the River Vyrnwy at Melverley.

The Riverside Caravan Park Houses surrounded by flood water in Bridgnorth

The Riverside Caravan Park Houses has been surrounded by flood water in Bridgnorth

A severe flood warning was also in place downriver at Upton-on-Severn.

And three flood alerts were in place covering Bewdley and Stourport.

Flooding may be affecting properties and roads in and around Sandy Lane, Stourport Marina and Severnside including Broaches Meadow in Stourport.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: "Further rainfall is expected over the next few days.

"We expect river levels to remain high over the next few days.

"We are closely monitoring the situation. Our incident response staff are checking defences."

Heath House Lane, in Codsall, remained closed due to flooding.

Residents were seen wading through the waters on Tuesday to retrieve their abandoned vehicles.

Parts of the A38 in Staffordshire remained underwater for people travelling to and from Lichfield and Cannock areas.

The road had remained closed northbound between Barton and Branston with the roadway flooded on Wednesday morning, said Highways England.

But it was later confirmed it had reopened on the afternoon. The southbound carriageway has already reopened.

While in Dudley, the Cone at the Red House Glass Cone, in the Wordsley area, is to be closed "until further notice for essential maintenance" following the recent severe weather conditions.

A statement on Dudley Council's website said that half term and educational activities are still running and craft units, the shop and coffee house are open as usual, but all glassblowing demonstrations and guided tours are cancelled until further notice.

Staffordshire's Drayton Manor will remain closed for the rest of the week, following severe flooding.

During Storm Dennis, the main lake burst its banks causing significant flooding on-site.

An extensive clear-up operation is underway at the attraction.

Flood water outside Stafford Cricket and Hockey Club

Work has begun clearing up the mess caused by flood water at Stafford Cricket and Hockey Club.

The club was flooded this week for the second time in four months, and the reopening event scheduled for later this month had to be cancelled.

Work is ongoing to try and remove the damaged items and install the drying equipment, the club said.

Workman Ian Young scrapes the remnants of the new parquet flooring, which had just been laid

Hundreds of pounds was raised in a fundraising appeal for the club and it was set to reopen on February 28.

But now the reopening night has had to be postponed after the brook burst its banks on Sunday night.

The club is set to meet with the Environment Agency to plan a future strategy for flood defences/prevention.

WATCH: Latest Met Office forecast

Wednesday mid-morning forecast 19/02/20

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings for persistent rain in Wales and north-west England for Wednesday and Thursday, and the north of England on Friday into Saturday.

EA manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Dave Throup said the level of flooding had left affected parts in "uncharted territory".

Storm Dennis claimed the life of Yvonne Booth, from Great Barr, who was swept away by floodwater near Tenbury in Worcestershire on Sunday.

Flood support announced

Wyre Forest District Council today said it would offer financial support for households and businesses suffering flooding as a result of Storm Dennis.

The announcement comes following the Government’s confirmation last night of a package of support for councils in flood-hit areas.

The council is granting 100 per cent council tax and business rates relief for three months for dwellings or business premises that were flooded, where it already has confirmation of flooding.

This applies to a number of properties in Bewdley, Wolverley and Stourport.

Flood waters at Stourport Riverside. Image: Wyre Forest District Council

Anyone seeking more information can email customerservices@wyreforestdc.gov.uk or call 01562 732928.

Council leader, Councillor Graham Ballinger, said: “With the Government’s confirmation of funding support last night, it is right that we should move immediately to ensure that affected households and businesses receive financial support as quickly as possible.

"We will also be putting in place arrangements to administer financial hardship payments for affected households and business recovery grants for small and medium enterprises that have uninsured losses.

“I would encourage anyone who has been flooded and thinks that they require council tax or business rates relief or help from the other financial support schemes to get in contact with the Hub.

“It is disappointing that the Government’s announcement does not include recovery grants for farmers similar to those announced last November and, with colleagues in other affected areas, we will continue to press the Government to address that important sector.”

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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