Hundreds of homes were evacuated overnight as Storm Christoph caused extensive flooding in parts of Manchester and Merseyside in England’s North West, and areas of North Wales.
Homes were evacuated in Manchester’s Didsbury and Northenden areas as well as in Ruthin and Bangor-on-Dee in North Wales, and in Maghull in Merseyside, the BBC reported on Thursday.
While visiting Didsbury amid the crisis Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “Hundreds of people got notice to leave their homes because of the risk of flooding from the (river) Mersey.”
He also said that thousands of Manchester homes had been protected by Environment Agency measures overnight but warned of “more to come” with further rain expected next week.
Today Prime Minister @BorisJohnson visited Didsbury to see how the @EnvAgency and the emergency services are working with local and national government to defend against flooding and support those who might be affected. pic.twitter.com/8U8rHrhdZv
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) January 21, 2021
Echoing Johnson’s warning the Environment Agency said in a statement, “There remains a significant risk of flooding after heavy rain from Storm Christoph falling on already saturated ground led to exceptionally high river levels, affecting parts of the North West of England and Yorkshire.”
Its Flood Duty Manager, Craig Woolhouse, added that the rise in levels brought on by overnight rainfall “may also bring flooding to parts of Yorkshire today and Friday, with a risk of damage to buildings in some communities.”
The Agency said it is “working round the clock” to help bring down the flood risk, with “over 9000 properties in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire already protected from flooding.”
Remedial measures included “operating flood defenses, flood storage reservoirs, and putting up temporary barriers where needed to help protect communities,” it said.
Environment teams are also “out on the ground clearing grilles, screens, and closing flood barriers,” Woolhouse added.
The River Ouse in York floods as rain and recent melting snow raise river levels in York, England, on Jan. 21, 2021. (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
However, Shadow Environment Secretary, Labour’s Stephanie Peacock called on the government to do more.
“We need a proactive rather than reactive approach to this crisis,” she said.
“So will the Minister today commit to holding an emergency flood summit that brings together agencies and regional leaders to make sure we have a coordinated response to support local communities?” she asked.
But Secretary of State for the Environment George Eustace responded by saying that the government had already held such a summit covering South Yorkshire and also “want to hold a series of roundtable meetings around the country, covering individual water catchments.”
England is currently under stringent Stay at Home national lockdown rules to slow the spread of the (Chinese Communist Party) CCP virus but emergencies are one of the “reasonable excuses” for which people can leave their homes under the measures, and Wales has similar measures in force.
One person affected by the flooding told the BBC’s Breakfast program that though he had been told to evacuate, “you don’t want to impose yourself on other people,” during the pandemic.
“So, we are trying to hold on as long as we can, and hopefully it will pass,” he said.
But the Environment Agency said people should quit their homes if advised to.
“Preparations for evacuations and to create COVID-secure rest centers will have been made by the relevant agencies as a precautionary measure,” it said.
“We would urge anyone advised to evacuate to follow the advice of the emergency services at the time,” it added.
Met Office Chief Meteorologist, Paul Gundersen, meanwhile said ice and strong winds were adding to the mix of heavy rain and floods.
“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,” he said.
This afternoon’s weather will be colder but much less wet than yesterday for England & Wales. However, rain, snow & ice will continue in parts of northern Scotland as #Christoph only slowly moves away. Warnings are in force. See https://t.co/QwDLMfRBfs for details pic.twitter.com/J37xd6MnWc
— Met Office (@metoffice) January 21, 2021
He also pointed to the National Severe weather warnings that are in place in the country:
“There are three National Severe weather warnings in place, two in north and east Scotland, one for rain and one for snow valid until noon on Friday, and an ice warning cover western Scotland, northwest England, Northern Ireland, and much of Wales, valid until 10 am Friday.”
Woolhouse meanwhile urged people to sign up to receive free flood warnings and to “keep away from swollen rivers and not to drive through flood water.”
“It is often deeper than it looks and just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float your car,” he warned.