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Storm Christoph: Residents evacuated amid flood warnings

Emma Bowden and Eleanor Barlow, PA
·4-min read

Severe flood warnings remain in place after hundreds of residents were told to leave their homes overnight because of adverse weather caused by Storm Christoph.

Homes were flooded following heavy rainfall and snow showers in Cheshire, with roads disrupted and residents in the county warned that river levels were still rising on Thursday.

Residents were evacuated overnight in the Didsbury and Northenden areas of Greater Manchester, with the Government preparing for further impacts from unsettled weather.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Over 170 flood warnings remained in place across England at midday on Thursday, with three “severe” warnings – meaning danger to life – issued for parts of the North West.

A severe flood warning has been issued for the English River Dee at Farndon in Cheshire, where water levels are expected to peak on Thursday afternoon, according to the Environment Agency.

It said that the “flooding of property is imminent” and that staff were closely monitoring weather forecasts and river levels.

Superintendent Julie Westgate, from Cheshire Constabulary, said a number of residents had been evacuated in Warrington, Northwich, Chester, Ellesmere Port and Tattenhall.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue said on Thursday morning it was in the process of rescuing 21 people by boat from Lea Court nursing home in the town of Warrington.

Winter weather Jan 21st 2021
Gabrielle Burns-Smith looks out from her flooded home on the outskirts of Lymm in Cheshire (Joe Giddens/PA)

Gabrielle Burns-Smith, 44, whose home in Lymm flooded, said that she “watched the water coming through the back door” in the early hours of Thursday morning.

She said: “By 3pm yesterday the water outside was shin-deep and by 4pm it was knee-deep, and we were seriously worrying that the house was going to be breached. Then it was.

“We’re still in the house, we can’t go anywhere because we can’t get the car out, the water is just too deep. Both our living rooms are flooded.”

In the early hours of the morning, North Wales Police began evacuating residents from their homes in Bangor-on-Dee after a severe flood warning was issued for the village by Natural Resources Wales.

Elsewhere in Wales, emergency teams were called out to protect supplies of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine following flooding at Wrexham Industrial Estate.

All “necessary precautions” were taken to prevent disruption to the manufacture of the jab, according to a spokeswoman for Wockhardt UK, which operates the pharmaceutical manufacturing facility.

Winter weather Jan 21st 2021
The Prime Minister during a visit to a storm basin near the River Mersey in Didsbury (Paul Ellis/PA)

On a visit to Disbury, where around 2,000 homes were advised to evacuate, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Environment Agency had used sluice gates and “improvised emergency flood defences”.

“I think 10,000 homes in the Manchester area, in the Didsbury area, have been protected just as a result of what they have been doing overnight,” he told reporters.

“There will be more to come, there will be further rain next week, so it is vital that people who are in potentially affected areas follow the advice and get the Environment Agency flood alerts where they can.”

A severe flood warning for parts of Manchester was stood down on Thursday, with the “worst-case scenario” avoided when the Didsbury Basin did not “significantly overflow”, the city council said.

In a statement, the authority said: “However, high water levels have flooded some gardens and some roads remain closed.”

Following heavy rain and snow, Greater Manchester Police warned of the risk of “treacherous ice” on the roads and urged drivers to be cautious and only travel if essential.

Residents in Maghull were also advised to leave their properties after a severe flood warning was issued due to “unprecedented” water levels at Dover Brook near the River Alt, Sefton Council said.

But as rain overnight was not as heavy as predicted, this was replaced with a flood warning on Thursday, according to the council.

The Environment Agency said that while this was “good news”, it expected water levels to remain high throughout the day with flooding to properties still possible.

Heavy rain has lashed parts of the country, with provisional figures showing Cleveland in North Yorkshire received more than their average January rainfall in just 48 hours.

Three yellow weather warnings have been issued by the Met Office, including an ice warning in place until 10am on Friday covering western Scotland, North West England, Northern Ireland and much of Wales.

Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said: “Colder air is now established across the UK as Storm Christoph moves away into the North Sea, and gale force winds will impact the northeast of the country.”