UK weather - Storm Christoph: Thousands of Manchester homes being evacuated amid 'danger to life' flood warnings

January 21, 2021

About 2,000 properties in Greater Manchester were evacuated overnight due to flooding from Storm Christoph - as heavy snow also hit the region.

Four severe "danger to life" warnings are in place in the North West, including in West Didsbury, East Didsbury, Heatley and Northenden.

There's also a severe flood warning in force at Bangor on Dee in northwest Wales, where the entire village has been ordered to leave their homes.

Police declared a major incident and told people to go to a local school and wait for emergency 4x4 vehicles rather than trying to leave on their own.

Entire village being evacuated amid severe flood warnings - follow live updates

The key areas affected are:

  • Didsbury
  • Northenden
  • Wales
  • York

Nearly 190 "immediate action required" flood warnings are in force - mostly across the Midlands and North, as well as 213 amber alerts.

Wales has 35 flood warnings and 48 alerts.

Emergency workers were called out to protect supplies of the Oxford vaccine as a massive warehouse in Wrexham storing the supply was at risk of flooding.

Leader of Wrexham Council, Mark Pritchard, told Sky News there were "serious concerns" about the issue - which could have had an impact on vaccine supplies - but workers were successful in protecting the warehouse.

In Greater Manchester, police and firefighters were helping evacuate homes and a spokesman for Manchester City Council said about 2,000 homes would be evacuated in total.

Nelson Vasconcelos, a father of two, said he was warned of a flooding risk at his Didsbury home but chose not to leave because he has no family nearby.

"We spent all night moving things to the second floor and trying to keep the kids safe," he said.

"We had bags packed in case we had to leave and the police told us to be ready at any moment."

Another resident, Steve Cook, told Sky News that he and his cat are staying with friends as his home was at risk of flooding.

"I haven't slept at all actually," he said.

"I don't think I'll be returning to my home for a few days as there's still the risk from the snowfall.

"I was thinking, god how much of my house is going to get destroyed. I had recently re-decorated. The whole day was just 24 hours of worry."

Twitter user @TonyCost posted in the early hours: "Our flats were low risk for the Mersey flooding when I checked earlier today - now they're evacuating the ground floor, sirens, speakers, the lot. Scary stuff. Stay safe Didsbury/Northenden bunch."

Snow has also been falling in the area, with others on social media calling the weather over the last few days "bonkers" and "absolutely bananas".

Sky's North of England correspondent Katerina Vittozzi said water levels on the River Mersey had peaked at around midnight, but there is now the danger that snowmelt could affect the river again.

The Environment Agency has said that the flood defence system at Didsbury was about 2cm away from being overwhelmed.

Trains are being cancelled between Manchester, Liverpool and Warrington and people are being urged not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

Flooding also blocked the East Coast Main Line between Darlington and York, with warnings more services between Leeds and York could be affected, according to train operator LNER.

Multiple road closures are in place across the worst-affected areas, including Derbyshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Cheshire and Teesside.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service said it was called to multiple drivers who got stranded in floodwater on Thursday morning, while St Helens Borough council said it was aware of four cars stuck in 3ft of water, warning others "don't be like them".

In Shropshire, there have been flood warnings along the River Severn, where there is a risk to property and farmland.

North Wales has also had snow and some homes near the river in Ruthin, Denbighshire, have already flooded.

The fire brigade has been pumping water from the area and police tweeted that they were helping with evacuations.

"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," police warned.

Dafydd Vaughan, who lives in the town, told Sky News the situation there was "unbelievable" and "bizarre" - with snow now compounding the flooding situation.

"Most of the hill roads are impassable because of snow and most of the lower land roads are impassable because of floods," he said.

Mr Vaughan said people had been laying sandbags, but that the water had already breached some homes.

"There are properties flooded at the moment and emergency services are there, the fire brigade's there pumping flood water out of that area and back into the river.

"It looks like they're successful but when the next high tide comes at around five o'clock we could be looking at a similar situation again."

In Maghull, north of Liverpool, Sefton Council ordered people to leave their homes as soon as possible.

Downing Street said COVID-secure facilities would be available for anyone forced to evacuate.

Boris Johnson held an emergency COBRA meeting on the situation on Wednesday.

In Scotland, meanwhile, there is an amber warning for snow in the south of the country.

The Met Office has warned there will be further snow later in the week as Storm Christoph moves east, with accumulations expected northern England, Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland.

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