Storm Christoph: More than 2,000 homes in Manchester evacuated

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Media caption,
Heavy rainfall continues to batter parts of England

More than 2,000 homes in parts of Manchester are being evacuated due to flooding caused by Storm Christoph.

The Environment Agency (EA) has issued two severe flood warnings, which means danger to life, for the Didsbury and Northenden areas.

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey of Greater Manchester Police has warned some of those affected would "be Covid-positive or isolating at home".

Earlier, Boris Johnson urged people to follow evacuation advice.

He said the government was working to ensure it was "totally prepared" for floods "in every part of the UK".

A major incident was earlier declared for the Greater Manchester area where up to 3,000 properties were feared to be at risk.

Mr Johnson urged people not to stay in their homes if they were told to evacuate.

"If you are told to leave your home then you should do so.

"People may think this is a minor issue at the moment, still relevantly minor by standards of previous floods, but never underestimate the suffering, the misery, that floods can cause people."

Under government restrictions due to the current national lockdown people are allowed to leave their homes to escape harm.

Image source, Lancashire Police
Image caption,
Flooding has affected roads and rail services

In an alert to those affected, ACC Bailey said: "A basin at Didsbury to take water from the Mersey is full. It will over-top in the next few hours. As a result we will be issuing a flood warning to homes.

"This will be through texted flood alerts to some people, and police officers, PCSOs, firefighters, and volunteers will be knocking on doors."

He said police will be supported by North West Ambulance, the British Red Cross and St John Ambulance.

"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," he added.

Water levels in the area were expected to peak at about 23:00 GMT on Wednesday.

A major incident has also been declared in Derbyshire, where authorities believe a small number of evacuations are "likely" on Thursday morning, when the River Derwent is expected to peak.

County council leader Barry Lewis said it could rival levels seen in November 2019, depending on the weather overnight.

Media caption,
The PM says the government is making sure it is “totally prepared in every part of the UK” for flooding after Storm Christoph.

Speaking after a Cobra emergency meeting on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said work was under way to ensure transport and energy networks, and local council services, were prepared.

He added that work was also taking place to ensure the necessary numbers of sandbags were available.

"We want to make sure that we are totally prepared in every part of the UK for flooding, because it is coming on top of the stress people are already under fighting Covid," he said.

"We looked at particularly Manchester, we've got a situation potentially developing there," Mr Johnson said.

"We are looking at a pattern of rainfall possibly not as bad at the end of this week, maybe worse next week."

People in Greater Manchester have also been advised not to travel.

Stephen Rhodes, from Transport from Greater Manchester, said there was disruption across the network.

"Let's work together and not put our emergency services and the NHS - who are already working extremely hard due to the Covid-19 pandemic - under any more pressure," he said.

In Merseyside, the M57 has been closed in both directions between junction 6 and 7 due to flooding.

Elsewhere in England:

  • In Cheshire, 33 people were moved from their houseboats on Hayhurst Marina as water levels rose
  • Flood warnings remain in place in both West and North Yorkshire
  • North Yorkshire Police said anyone forced to leave home and stay with relatives would not face a fine for breaching Covid restrictions
  • The Ouse in York is expected to peak at 4.4 (14.4ft) to 4.8m (15.7ft) on Thursday evening

The Environment Agency has issued more than 100 flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected and immediate action required, while there are also more than 200 flood alerts, meaning flooding is possible.

Image caption,
River levels have risen rapidly in parts of northern England

The North West, Yorkshire and the Midlands have been preparing for widespread flooding following the Met Office's amber weather warning for heavy rain until midday Thursday.

The Met Office said some isolated areas could see up to 200mm (7.8in).

Image caption,
Sandbags have been distributed as Storm Christoph batters parts of England

Labour's shadow floods minister Stephanie Peacock said urgent action was needed.

"Once again the government's response to inevitable flood events has been slow and uncoordinated," the Barnsley East MP said.

"We must ensure councils are supported to protect people, businesses, and local communities, and that all of the necessary precautions are also in place to protect those fighting the floods in light of the Covid-19 pandemic."

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