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Storm Dennis: Dozens evacuated as severe flood warnings remain
18 February 2020
- Storm Dennis
Dozens of people have spent the night away from home as severe flood warnings remain in place across parts of the UK.
One woman died after being swept away in floodwater in Worcestershire, while hundreds of homes have been flooded in extreme weather caused by Storm Dennis.
More than 200 flood warnings remain in place including nine severe – or “danger to life” – warnings.
Residents evacuated from towns near the River Severn spent an anxious night as water threatened to top flood defences.
- Floods latest: Severe warnings in England
Among the worst affected areas are South Wales, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire where major incidents were declared.
More than 400 homes and businesses across the country have been flooded, the Environment Agency said – but the number was “likely to rise”.
On Monday night, police advised people in Upton upon Severn and Uckinghall in Worcestershire to leave their homes, and an emergency shelter was opened.
There were fears that defences built after the 2007 floods to withstand a 100-year event could be breached overnight.
Ralph Thompson, who runs the Swan pub in Upton upon Severn, said he was staying there with his girlfriend and their dogs.
“The locals, the regulars, they’ve helped me take all the soft furnishings upstairs to the second floor,” he said.
On Monday, the body of 55-year-old Yvonne Booth was found after she was swept away by floodwater when her car became stuck near Tenbury Wells.
Her family said in a statement: “Yvonne is a very much loved member of our family and we are all devastated by this news.”
Currently, there are seven severe flood warnings in England and two in Wales, covering the rivers Lugg, Severn, Wye and Trent. There are no severe warnings in Scotland.
More rain is expected in parts of the UK later this week, with two yellow Met Office weather warnings issued for north and south Wales for Wednesday evening.
Emergency service workers in boats had to rescue residents in Hereford as the River Wye rose to its highest level on record, and people were also rescued in Shrewsbury after the River Severn burst its banks.
The Environment Agency said about 1,000 staff were on duty on Monday night, with 5km of flood barriers deployed and 90 pumps in action.
Homes in Monmouth, south Wales, have been evacuated, as the council leader said “we are facing unprecedented times”.
The River Wye at Monmouth reached its highest recorded level on Tuesday morning.
The South Wales valleys saw the highest water levels for more than 40 years over the weekend – an “unprecedented” scale of flooding, according to Natural Resources Wales.
A relief centre was set up in a high school and teams worked into the early hours of Monday to rescue stranded residents from their homes by boat.
Jeanette Cox said the only surviving object on the bottom floor of her home in the village of Nantgarw, near Cardiff, was a wedding photograph of her and her late husband.
Mrs Cox, 68, said it was “terrifying” to discover water at the bottom of the stairs in the early hours of Sunday morning.
She and her daughter Rachel were evacuated from their home but returned on Monday to assess the scale of the damage.
“The water has moved things I didn’t think could move. I think there are just two cupboards standing – the rest is gone,” Mrs Cox said.
A relief centre for displaced residents has been set up at the high school in the town, where around 130 properties were evacuated on Sunday.
- Coastal floods warning in UK as sea levels rise
- How do you stop flooding?
Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard said it was a “disgrace” that Boris Johnson had “refused” to visit affected communities.
Environment Secretary George Eustice defended its response to the storm, telling the BBC the government “can’t protect every home”.
Mr Eustice said about £2.5bn has been spent on tackling extreme weather conditions since 2015 and £4bn has been allocated for the next five years.
Downing Street said Boris Johnson would receive “regular updates” on the flooding, which it described as “terrible”.
Travel continues to be disrupted across the UK, with some A-roads closed and train lines disrupted.
Several schools have been closed and roads remain blocked by floods and landslips.
In Staffordshire, serious flooding caused the first ever national youth climate strike conference to be called off following heavy rain.
The government has activated an emergency funding scheme for areas affected by the flooding, which include parts of Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
Under the Bellwin scheme, local authorities can apply for the government to reimburse non-insurable costs above a certain threshold, which has not been specified.
For more information, check the BBC Weather website and your BBC Local Radio station for regular updates.
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