UK weather: Homes being evacuated amid 'danger to life' flood warnings from Storm Christoph

January 20, 2021

Evacuations have begun for some residents in Greater Manchester who have been told to leave their homes as waters rise and four "danger to life" warnings are issued.

Two of the severe flood warnings affect those in East Didsbury, West Didsbury and Northenden, along the River Mersey.

Other areas affected are around Maghull, in Sefton.

And the challenge for people in those areas is now being exacerbated by heavy snowfall.

In North Wales, police tweeted that officers have been called to assist Denbighshire County Council and North Wales Fire and Rescue Service in Ruthin, where some homes are being evacuated.

Officers added: "Regrettably, people who do not live locally are driving to the area to 'see the floods'. Please do not stretch our resources by adding to the problem."

There are fears that Britain could see two months' worth of average rainfall in just two-and-a-half days as Storm Christoph hits the country.

The Met Office earlier issued yellow warnings of heavy rain for much of the UK, with a more severe amber rainfall warning covering parts of northern England and the Midlands in place until Thursday.

Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, Nick Bailey, said: "Unfortunately - despite the best efforts of all agencies involved - we are now at the stage where evacuations are necessary in areas of Didsbury.

"We will be directly in touch with residents in those properties that have been identified as potentially being at risk and we have an evacuation plan in place to set up those who have been displaced in temporary accommodation.

"I think it's important to stress that if you are contacted and advised to evacuate then we would strongly urge you to do so."

Read the latest weather forecast about Storm Christoph

Up to 3,000 properties in Greater Manchester could be affected by flooding, police warned earlier.

People living in the following postcodes - M20 2, M20 5, M21 7, M21 8, M21 9, M22 4 - are being urged to check the Environment Agency's flood warning website to see if they are in the affected area and should evacuate.

The council said: "If someone is asked to leave their home and need to stay with family or friends temporarily due to flooding, they will not be in breach of coronavirus laws, which allow for exceptions including to escape the risk of harm - and no legal action will be taken."

It added: "However, people should still take precautions to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus - remember to wear a face covering, keep your distance from others outside of your household or bubble, and wash hands regularly.

The council said it had set up a COVID-safe emergency rest centre at Wythenshawe Forum in case anyone is told to evacuate because of flooding and has nowhere else to go.

The Environment Agency has warned of a "volatile situation", and a major incident was earlier declared in both Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire.

Boris Johnson said people should evacuate their homes if advised to do so.

Speaking after chairing a meeting of the COBRA emergency committee, the prime minister said: "We want to make sure we are totally prepared in every part of the UK for flooding because it's coming on top of the stress people are already under fighting COVID."

He wanted to ensure that transport networks were prepared, that electricity outages would not be severe, that there were enough supplies of sandbags, and evacuation centres were on standby.

Mr Johnson added: "It really is advisable - follow the advice. If you are told to leave your home then you should do so."

Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge said some areas of the country could see double the average amount of monthly rainfall over a few days.

He said: "Those areas that have seen between 50mm and 70mm already, the warning is out until midday on Thursday, so an extremely long period, but by then we could see up to 150mm to possibly 200mm of rainfall."

Fellow forecaster Grahame Madge described Storm Christoph as "quite a slow-moving system" which is bringing "a variety of weather" to the UK.

The meteorologist said: "While rain remains the main hazard in the south, further north we've got snow and ice remaining a risk.

"The system will work its way through, we are expecting significant totals of rainfall and when you combine that with snowmelt it can lead to localised flooding across the affected regions."

North Yorkshire County Council said more than 15,000 sandbags were at the ready around the county.

People were also preparing for rising floodwaters in West Yorkshire on Wednesday, with towns in the Calder Valley laying out sandbags and flood wardens monitoring water levels.

As the week continues and Storm Christoph makes its way east, the risks of snow increase, the Met Office said.

Public Health England issued a cold weather alert from "first thing" on Thursday until 9am on 25 January for the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.

The agency said the risk of flooding will amplify the public health risks of the severe cold weather.

Yellow snow warnings are also in place for parts of Scotland.

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