Storm Christoph: Evacuations and flood warnings in England

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image copyrightPA Media
image captionMore than 60 flood warnings remain in place in northern, central and eastern England

Residents have been evacuated, roads closed and rail services were suspended as Storm Christoph batters England.

Houseboat residents were moved from Northwich, Cheshire, for their safety as Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to hold an emergency meeting later.

Northern, central and eastern England are braced for flooding which will be discussed at the Cobra meeting.

More than 60 flood warnings remain in place and three police forces have declared major incidents.

The North West, Yorkshire and the Midlands have been preparing for widespread flooding following the Met Office's amber weather warning for heavy rain until midday Thursday.

image copyrightCheshire Police
image captionPeople living in houseboats in Cheshire have been moved to hotels for their safety, say police

Cheshire Police has declared a major incident - along with forces in Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire - and moved 33 people from Hayhurst Marina for their safety as water levels rise.

In Greater Manchester up to 3,000 properties could be affected by flooding near the River Mersey where a peak is expected at 23:00 GMT.

Downing Street said Covid-secure evacuation centres would be made available to those forced to leave their homes as a result of flooding.

"Preparations to create Covid-secure rest centres have been made by relevant agencies as a precautionary measure," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

"The important message for the public now is to continue to monitor the information the Environment Agency are providing and sign-up for flood alerts if they haven't already."

image captionThe River Eden has flooded Rickerby Park in Carlisle

More than 120mm (nearly 5in) of rain has already fallen in some parts of England, with 123.4mm at Honister Pass in Cumbria in the 24 hours up to 06:00 GMT on Wednesday.

Nearby Seathwaite saw the second highest total, with 107.2mm (4.2in), and some isolated spots could see up to 200mm (7.8in), the Met Office said.

The Environment Agency has issued more than 60 flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected and immediate action required, while there are also more than 180 flood alerts, meaning flooding is possible.

Disruption includes:

  • A supermarket delivery driver being rescued from his overturned van after he careered off the road and ended up in a fast-flowing ford
  • The Humber Bridge being closed to vulnerable vehicles due to strong winds
  • Wigan and Southport, Manchester to Liverpool, Preston and Buxton, Carlisle to Skipton and Maryport among the rail services being suspended due to flooding
  • Rotherham Central railway station is blocked due to flooding
  • Closure of Longmoor Lane in Garstang, Lancashire after police said at least six vehicles got stuck
  • The closure of the A5 at Gobowen, Shropshire due to "severe flooding"
  • Two vehicles becoming stranded on the A68 West Woodburn Bridge in Northumberland because of flooding from the River Rede
  • A motorist escaped unharmed after a tree fell on his car while he was driving near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
image copyrightLancashire Police
image captionA road in Lancashire was shut by police after six vehicles got stuck in surface water

In North Yorkshire, York is currently predicting the River Ouse could rise above 4m (13.1ft) but that is a level the defences can cope with.

However, if people are forced out of their homes due to flooding they can stay with friends or family without the risk of a Covid fine during Storm Christoff, North Yorkshire Police has said.

Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey said the force declared it a major incident on Tuesday to ensure it was "as prepared as possible".

He believes up to 3,000 properties in the region could be affected by flooding in Didsbury, Northenden and Sale near the River Mersey.

image copyrightEPA
image captionFlood sirens were sounded in Walsden, Todmorden on Tuesday

"This is a significant incident in terms of disruption to people and those people have been advised with regard to action to take," he said.

The Prime Minister's spokesman added: "The Environment Agency is on the ground now working with local partners and stand ready to respond to any flooding.

"They have already ensured there are 40km (25 miles) of temporary barriers, which they are ready to deliver anywhere in the country and that is alongside high-powered pumps and trained staff who are ready to assist and provide information to local communities."

When asked if local authorities would be given further financial support to deal with flooding, the Prime Minister's spokesman said: "We have a number of flood recovery schemes that can be made available to those who are affected by flooding."

Flood warden Keith Crabtree from Todmorden, West Yorkshire, said he was hoping improved flood defences had "done the trick" after checking river levels in Mytholmroyd. 

"There appears to be plenty of rain about but it does not seem to be having and serious impact on the river levels," he said.

"We will see over the years to come how it performs in reducing the flood risk for the village. Things can change very quickly in the Calder Valley and we are not out of the woods yet."

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