Heavy rain may ‘slow down’ storm recovery efforts and risk further flooding

The Met Office has said heavy showers lashing northern England and Northern Ireland were set to move south-eastwards on Tuesday.

22 February 2022

Heavy rain set to lash the UK could worsen the risk of flooding and “slow down” recovery efforts following three storms which battered the nation in a week.

The storms – named Dudley, Eunice and Franklin – left 1.4 million households without electricity, some for up to 72 hours, with latest figures showing just under 30,000 still without power as of Monday afternoon and residents in some areas told to evacuate.

As a result, the Environment Agency has urged communities in parts of the West Midlands and the north of England, especially those along River Severn, to be prepared for significant flooding until Wednesday following high rainfall from Storm Franklin.

Winter weather Feb 21st 2022
Workmen build flood defences at the River Severn in Ironbridge (Nick Potts/PA)

It has issued hundreds of flood warnings across the UK, including two rare “severe” warnings for the River Severn at the Wharfage, Ironbridge and Wribbenhall, Bewdley, where rising water levels pose a “significant risk to life”, with barriers forecast to exceed their capacity and potentially overtop.

A Met Office spokesman said while there will not be a “huge amount” of rain on Tuesday, further rainfall in flood-affected areas could “massively” slow down recovery work.

Heavy showers lashing northern England and Northern Ireland are set to move south-eastwards on Tuesday, the Met Office said.

National Rail said travellers should check before travelling on the railways in the morning ahead of a “small number of delays and alterations”.

Forecaster Mark Wilson told the PA news agency: “It’s been an improving picture following a really bad start to the week, with strong winds due to Storm Franklin.

“Outbreaks of rain have been clearing off to the east, and some parts have been brighter but still windy, so not a great start but it has improved.

“Overnight and in the early hours of Tuesday bands of rain and strong winds in the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will begin to move, bringing scattered showers across many regions, including those which have already seen flooding.

“Although there won’t be a huge amount of rain and it will pass through quickly, further rainfall on top of the regions which have seen flooding is not helpful and could cause recovery to slow down massively.”

(PA Graphics)

Major incidents have been declared in Worcestershire and Shropshire as water levels along the River Severn continue to rise, West Mercia Police said.

Severe flood warnings, meaning a danger to life, have been issued by the Environment Agency for Ironbridge and Bewdley due to a risk the temporary flood defences could be overtopped within the next 24 hours.

Residents in affected areas have been contacted directly and advised where evacuation may be necessary.

Flood barriers in both locations are forecast to exceed their capacity and overtop during Tuesday, the Environment Agency said.

UK Power Networks said on Monday evening 98% of properties across the East and South East have had their power restored.

It comes after Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, said extreme weather, like the storms that have lashed the UK, “could” become a feature of the country’s climate.

Winter weather Feb 21st 2022
The storms caused havoc across the nation (Joe Giddens/PA)

Speaking in the Commons on Monday, said he spoke directly with leaders at energy networks, adding: “They have given me assurances the restoration is happening as quickly as possible.”

He said: “The UK has been particularly badly hit by storms this year, but I’m pleased to say that overall our network operators and our brave emergency services have learnt lessons about how we can improve our response and will continue to learn those lessons.”

Police also named husband and father-of-two Stephen Matthews, 68, from Aintree, as the passenger who died after debris struck the windscreen of a vehicle he was travelling in amid high winds in Netherton, Merseyside, on Friday.

Winter weather Feb 21st 2022
More rain is set to fall (Victoria Jones/PA)

Katharine Smith, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Heavy rain, affecting already wet areas, is likely to cause significant river flooding along the River Severn until Wednesday.

“We have teams out on the ground taking preventative action, closing flood gates, deploying temporary barriers and moving pumps and other response equipment to areas of highest risk.

“While a handful of properties have sadly flooded over the past few days, Environment Agency defences have protected more than 40,000 properties despite record river levels.

“We advise people to stay away from swollen rivers and not to drive through flood water as just 30cm of flowing water is enough to move your car.”

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