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Pumps successfully refuelled in battle against Ironbridge flooding

By Kirsten Rawlins | Shrewsbury | Environment | Published: | Last Updated:

Emergency services working flat out in Ironbridge to stem the force of the River Severn breathed a collective sigh of relief tonight when a vital refuelling of water pumps succeeded.

Water has breached the barriers in Ironbridge – picture: Matthew Cooper/PA Wire.

A multi-agency effort to ensure that the pumping equipment was able to keep bailing out the water seeping through the compromised flood barriers along the Wharfage had been seen as a critical point in the operation to stop the worst of the flooding.

West Mercia Police Chief Superintendent Tom Harding said the pumps had safely been refuelled.

However he stressed that, with the barriers having shifted several metres during the day, the major incident declaration still stood and residents were still advised to evacuate their premises.

He said the refuelling would keep the pumps in operation for the next 24 hours keeping the river at bay.

He said: "It is vital that we keep the water on the dry side down, which is what the pumps are doing. The fire service is going to put an additional pump in."

River levels are now dropping and Chief Supt Harding said that would hopefully provide a window during which any damage to barriers could be rectified.

"Unfortunately we are looking at the weather forecast for rain over the weekend which could lead to levels rising again.

"We have done what we can at the moment," he said.

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Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service Incident Commander, Craig Jackson, said fire crews and two specialist boat crews, one from Shropshire the other from Staffordshire, remained on scene.

"Our main safety message is that we are still advising people to evacuate and still stay away from the river edge. Also if they are using petrol pumps they should be outside their properties to prevent any dangers from carbon monoxide."

It came after an emergency evacuation was ordered in Ironbridge after the flood barriers were breached earlier this afternoon.

Confirming the news Chief Supt Harding said water was beginning to seep in beneath the barriers, while in some areas the barriers appeared to be buckling.

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Councillor Shaun Davies, leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said it had 'significantly increased in terms of its dangerousness'.

Chief Supt Harding said there was 2m of water on the wrong side of the barrier and that all but two properties behind the barriers had been cleared.

"Virtually everyone who had chosen to remain over the last few days has now left on the basis of the new information we've given them around our concerns for the barrier," he said.

"We are waiting to see and planning for what could be the worst case scenario in terms of the barrier and that's all we can do.

"There's up to 2m of water on the wrong side of the barrier so we've ordered an emergency evacuation."

He said water was coming beneath the flood barriers.

"We've got water that has started now to come underneath the flood barriers and in areas it appears that it's buckling.

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

"Spread the word and pass this on to any family or friends in the area.

"We need to make sure that they leave."

Police have advised those affected to head to the Tontine Hotel.

The Government's Flood Information Service released the following statement:

"The flood barriers at The River Severn at the Wharfage, Ironbridge have been compromised and cannot prevent flooding of properties.

"Your safety, home and possessions are at risk.

"Act now.

"This message will be updated by 2pm today or if the situation changes.

"This message contains gauge information for Buildwas At 11.30am today; the level at the Buildwas Gauge was 6.78 metres and falling slowly.

"A peak level of 6.8 metres occurred at 6am am Tuesday morning February, 26, 2020.

"It is possible that depths of flood water along the Wharfage could get to 1.8 metres deep."

Councillor Shaun Davies said: "The barriers are becoming overwhelmed by the pure volume of water in the River Severn and the prolonged pressure they're under.

"They're shunting backwards quite significantly.

"We're performing an emergency evacuation of all properties, residences and people from outside the Ironbridge Gorge area.

"Please do not come to Ironbridge. People are being asked to leave their homes and businesses.

"This is a developing situation but it has significantly increased in terms of its dangerousness."

Staff at the Malthouse in Wharfage were asked to evacuate.

Karl Maguire, owner of the Malthouse, said: "We are evacuating, and have been doing for days. It's a crazy situation but you couldn't have asked more from the emergency services with all this. The barriers have been up for ten days, they could only last so long."

A severe 'danger to life' flood warning remained in place for the River Severn at Shrewsbury.

The river has now peaked in Shrewsbury.

See the latest forecast from the Met Office here:

Wednesday morning forecast 26/02/2020

Around 40 residents in Ironbridge were urged to evacuate their homes on Monday night and people were rescued from their flooded homes in Shrewsbury.

  • Scroll down for the latest live updates across the county

In Shrewsbury the three main shopping centres, Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside, were closed for the safety of customers and staff again today.

Shrewsbury train lines have been impacted by severe flooding with many rail lines closed.

The River Severn in full flow in Ironbridge

Transport for Wales and West Midlands Railway have asked people to check before they travel today as the high water levels in Shrewsbury will affect rail travel.

Services from Shrewsbury to Birmingham will not run today and customers are being advised to travel via Crewe.

Road closures list:

Shrewsbury

  • Victoria Avenue
  • Old Coleham
  • Gravel Hill Lane
  • Sydney Avenue
  • Atcham to Cross Houses
  • Chiltern Farm Lane
  • Berwick Road
  • Longden Coleham
  • Raven Meadows
  • Roushill
  • Cressage to Eaton Constantine
  • Smithfield Road – both directions
  • Coton Hill
  • Chester Street and Cross Street
  • Atcham to Berwick Wharf
  • B4380 Emstrey Island to Atcham
  • Williams Way
  • Meadow Place
  • Coleham Head
  • English Bridge
  • Frankwell
  • Welsh Bridge*
  • Wyle Cop

*except for access for buses to Theatre Severn temporary bus termius, and residents/businesses on the Frankwell side of Welsh Bridge

  • Priory Road remains closed due to roof damage at the Quarry Swimming Centre.
  • Town Walls is closed while Cadent investigate and repair a gas leak. Barring any unforeseen circumstances they currently anticipate the works will be complete by Wednesday.
  • London Road will remain OPEN as normal until further notice. The temporary closure, for BT cable work, was due to be put back in place this week having been lifted last week.

North Shropshire

  • Colliery Road, St Martins
  • Clarke’s Lane, St Martins
  • Burma Road, Park Hall, Whittington

South Shropshire

  • B4368 Clun to Newcastle (road slip)
  • Doctors Lane, Bridgnorth
  • Riverside, Bridgnorth
  • Severnside South Bridgnorth
  • The A442 is closed between Sutton Maddock and Bandon Island

Other

  • The Gateway is expected to be closed today.
  • Shrewsbury’s three main shopping centres – Darwin, Pride Hill and Riverside – will be closed again on Wednesday.
  • Shrewsbury railway station. Services will run from/to Chester and Crewe. All other lines in Shrewsbury station are closed.
  • Shrewsbury Colleges Group – Welsh and English bridge campuses are closed.
  • University Centre Shrewsbury – is due to reopen on Thursday.
  • St. Winefride’s School will be closed on Wednesday. They anticipate opening as usual on Thursday but will continue to monitor the situation

Ironbridge

All roads into the Ironbridge Gorge this morning are closed to general traffic however there is residential access.

The following roads are accessible for residents through managed entrances:

  • Tontine Hill / High Street
  • Paradise
  • Ironbridge Road
  • Madeley Road from Hill Top
  • Church Hill
  • Lincoln Hill
  • Traffic over Coalport Bridge (Woodbridge) is being manually controlled because of its vehicle weight limit.

The following roads are closed and are impassable:

  • The Wharfage
  • Buildwas Road
  • Ferry Road
  • Coalford
  • Dale End
  • The Lloyds
  • Waterloo Street
  • The Free Bridge is also closed so there is no access to Broseley from Ironbridge

Latest updates:

Kirsten Rawlins

By Kirsten Rawlins
@kirsten_Star

Digital Content Manager for the Shropshire Star and Express & Star. Also reviews concerts and events, as well as writing features and celebrity interviews. E-mail me at kirsten.rawlins@shropshirestar.co.uk, or phone 01952 241440.

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