Ironbridge Flooding: Police Launch Emergency Evacuation As Barriers Breached

West Mercia Police have told people in Wharfage to leave homes and businesses immediately.

Police are carrying out an emergency evacuation in Ironbridge due to the temporary flood barriers becoming “overwhelmed”.

People in the Shropshire town, which is beside the River Severn, have been asked to leave homes and businesses immediately.

They reported hearing a noise as the barriers shifted from their base.

West Mercia Police chief superintendent Tom Harding, in a video on his Twitter account, said officers were visiting residents of the Wharfage, on the river bank, to tell them to evacuate.

He said: “Potentially, we’ve got water that has started to come underneath the flood barriers and in areas it appears that it is buckling.

“We want to be open and transparent with the public and residents here so they make that informed decision to come with us.

“If you can, spread the word and pass that on to any family or friends in the area that we need to make sure that they leave.”

It comes after a video posted on Twitter by an Environment Agency manager showed the Severn breaching temporary flood barriers in Bewdley, Worcestershire, on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday evening, the river at Bewdley is expected to come close to its highest recorded level, which was 5.56m in November 2000, the Environment Agency said.

A local resident has said the town of Bewdley is “waiting anxiously” for news about flood barriers holding upstream in Ironbridge on a “bizarre” day in Worcestershire.

“It’s a media scrum here at Bewdley as the suns starts to set on beautiful and bizarre day,” Adrian Guest, a 53-year-old sales manager, told PA.

“Water levels have remained relatively static all day although there have been bizarre sightings of sofas and fridges floating by!

“People gathered in groups worried about the situation upriver at Ironbridge where the stress loads on their barriers could see them collapse at any moment – we all wait anxiously.”

Ongoing flooding is forecast over the next few days, with England having seen more than 200% of its average February rainfall, according to the agency.

Surging waters have caused damage to local museums and “major disruption” in Ironbridge, a local heritage worker said.

Dylan Jones, who works for the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (IGMT), said the water had reached “phenomenal” speeds and would affect many in the area.

“IGMT is one of the biggest employers in the area. Staff have been affected by the flooding and the Museum of the Gorge is completely surrounded by the river now,” he told the PA news agency.

He added that there were concerns of debris damaging the bridge itself and that the IGMT had had to close “half of its museums” due to the flooding.

The Met Office has warned of further showers across the UK on Wednesday, followed by even more rainfall on Thursday and Friday.

Forecaster John Griffiths said between 5mm to 10mm could fall on the River Severn’s source, the Welsh hills, throughout Wednesday, with other parts of the UK seeing up to 2mm.

He said temperatures are likely to “hover around freezing” in the morning, with the west of England and the Midlands experiencing the most frequent showers.

A yellow weather warning for ice has been issued until 10am on Wednesday for Northern Ireland, west Scotland, Wales and large swathes of England.

A further 5mm to 10mm of rain is forecast for most areas on Thursday, increasing to 10mm to 20mm in a 24-hour period between Friday and Saturday morning across catchment areas in Wales, Cumbria and Yorkshire, Griffiths said.

The Environment Agency has warned flooding is possible on the rivers Wye, Ouse and Trent, with other areas at risk from localised flooding caused by heavy rainfall expected on Friday.

It comes as homes were evacuated on Tuesday after the River Aire burst its banks in Snaith, in East Yorkshire.

As of 10.30pm, two severe “danger to life” flood warnings had been issued for the Shropshire towns of Shrewsbury and Ironbridge.

The Environment Agency said there is a “potential for the Ironbridge [flood] barrier to overtop”.

A further 101 flood warnings, meaning that flooding is expected, and 147 flood alerts, meaning that flooding is possible, are also in place across the country.