Storm Dennis: River nears peak as Ludlow hit by worst flooding in 12 years
A major incident has been declared in Shropshire after Storm Dennis battered the county and left Ludlow facing its worst floods in 12 years.
West Midlands Ambulance Service and West Mercia Police both declared a major incident in the county on Sunday afternoon, with a severe flooding warning still in place for Ludlow where the River Teme was expected to peak on Sunday evening.
Police warned people to only travel "if absolutely necessary" and said teams were on standby in Ludlow - the most seriously affected part of the county.
Only four severe flood warnings were in place in the UK on Sunday and all four were for the River Teme in the Ludlow and Tenbury Wells areas. A flood warning was also in place for the River Corve in Ludlow.
GALLERY: Ludlow in Storm Dennis aftermath
Residents in Ludlow were told to "activate any property flood protection products you may have, such as flood barriers and air brick covers and have a bag ready with vital items like medicines and insurance documents." Meanwhile the town's Methodist Church has been designated as a place for people to get a hot drink, shelter and advice.
Videos from Ludlow showed the extremely high Teme and Corve rivers racing through the town where several town centre streets were under water. The Teme was expected to peak at around 5.5 metres on Sunday evening, with further rain forecast overnight.
Parts of Clun and Clunton were also under water on Sunday morning, while around 25 homes were affected by flooding near Bridgnorth and villagers in Diddlesbury in the Corvedale also had to pump water out of their homes.
Meanwhile flood barriers were installed in Ironbridge and elderly residents in Pontesbury had to be rescued after their bungalows flooded.
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The M54, A49 and A5 were the most major roads affected by flood water, with the motorway closed westbound for around five hours between Junction 6 Telford West and Junction 7 at Wellington in the early hours.
That stretch of the motorway was fully reopen at 6am, however the road was shut eastbound near the M6 for most of the day and stretches of the A5, A49, A41, A53, A442 and A454 were also flooded.
Trains were also disrupted across Shropshire and beyond ue to water covering the lines.
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One of the worst affected roads was the A49 near Ludlow, where at least one car has had to be abandoned.
The flooded section of the road was around five miles away from Tenbury Wells where the River Teme burst its banks and the town centre was facing more flooding than Ludlow.
Numerous roads in Telford, including Holyhead Road in Wellington and parts of Coalbrookdale, were also flooded as were routes in Newtown, Welshpool and Llanfyllin in Mid Wales.
The Battlefield Link Road in Shrewsbury was closed throughout the day, while the nearby A49 was also flooded and there was standing water on the A5 and A49 near Emstrey. The A5 was also covered in water between Gobowen and Gledrid, forcing drivers to divert via smaller roads.
Much standing water had cleared by mid morning after drains struggled to cope with the intense rain overnight but river levels continued to rise throughout the day.
Fire crews supported the residents affected by flooding off the A454 in Hilton and at the flooded section of the A442 in Danesford, both near Bridgnorth.
"Approx 25 homes in Willow Close and Brookside Drive have approx 3ft of flood water in them and it continues to rise," Bridgnorth Fire Station said on Facebook.
As of midday there were four severe flood warnings, meaning there was danger to life, for the River Teme in the Ludlow and Tenbury Wells area in Shropshire and Worcestershire.
There were also 14 flood warnings in Shropshire, covering the River Severn, River Vyrnwy, River Rea and River Corve, and 14 flood alerts.
Meanwhile in Mid Wales there were warnings for the River Severn and River Vyrnwy around Welshpool, Llanymynech and Llansantffraid.
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Water pours through Ludlow
Residents were left trying to salvage belongings and hurrying to safety after their homes were inundated with water in Ludlow.
Temeside and Lower Corve Street were badly affected, with cars left stranded in the water, and water rising next to the town's historic buildings.
Andy Boddington, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow North, said water was “pouring” into the streets and it was the worst flooding Ludlow had seen since July 2007.
“We knew by the early hours of Sunday that Temeside and Lower Corve Street were going to flood,” he said.
“But there is not much you can do. The water was actually pouring out of the river and jumping through gaps. It is the worst flooding we have seen in 12 years.”
According to the Environment Agency, the Teme was expected to reach unprecedented levels.
Ludlow resident Vicki Marsh said she felt cut off after flooding closed many of the main roads in and out of the town.
She said: “It is quite scary, actually. Where the rugby club and the playing fields are is just like one big lake.
“The Ludlow Farm Shop and Kitchen, where I work, closed yesterday due to the flooding. The emergency services have been really great, as well as general everyday folk helping each other.”
Mr Boddington said water levels on Temeside caused a lot of problems.
“There was a number of properties which had water lapping a foot high against their doors. The River Teme was 5.19 metres higher than its usual level. People have been anxious all weekend because you never know where it is going. But there is a good community in Ludlow – no-one will be left without somewhere to go.”
Elderly residents of Mary Webb Close in Pontesbury had to be rescued after eight of the 10 bungalows were flooded, leaving many pensioners in their 80s and 90s having to leave their homes to be safe.
Joyce Haywood, who lives on the estate, said that at 77 years of age she is the youngest living there and she opened up her home to an older neighbour who is on heart medication.
Nick Hignett, Shropshire councillor for Rea Valley, said: “This is the third time they have flooded in a short time. The issue now is that elderly residents will have to be rehoused while carpets are taken out and the houses are dried. It is not a satisfactory state of affairs."
Flood hit areas could still feel the effects of the heavy rains brought by Storm Dennis after it has passed, experts have warned.
Parts of the UK were buffeted with winds of more than 90mph while more than a month’s worth of rain fell in 48 hours, leading to to a record number of flood warnings and alerts in England.
But as Storm Dennis begins to move away, experts have warned that the UK still faces wet and windy weather and flooding.
The Environment Agency (EA) urged people to remain vigilant and said “significant” river and surface water flooding is expected to continue into next week.
Flood duty manager Caroline Douglass added: “Storm Dennis will continue to bring disruptive weather into early next week, and there are flood warnings in place across much of England.
“We urge people to check the flood risk in their area and remain vigilant.”
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