Shrewsbury flooding: River finally receding but roads still under water
The River Severn has reached its peak in Shrewsbury but much of the town remains under water as businesses assess the damage.
The river peaked just 10 centimetres off its all-time high at the Welsh Bridge on Tuesday night, with much of Coleham, Coton Hill and the town centre submerged.
Environment Agency experts said the Severn peaked at 5.15m, only a fraction behind the record of 5.25m recorded in November 2000.
The high river level left several town centre roads submerged and forced many businesses to close, leaving owners on the frontline wondering when the misery will end, as forecasters say levels will remain high for some time.
With Shrewsbury's main car parks closed, roads blocked and trains and taxis in short supply, most visitors had to walk or cycle into the town.
Wyle Cop, Coton Hill, English Bridge and Castle Foregate were closed, and Welsh Bridge closed to town-bound traffic. Using the Kingsland Bridge and its 20p toll charge was about the only way for ordinary vehicles to get into the town centre.
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The bus station was closed too, with a dance troupe who had performed at Theatre Severn forming a human daisy chain to get their luggage out of the nearby Premier Inn, over the flood water and onto a waiting coach. Meanwhile local services were terminating at the theatre in Frankwell, where barriers have prevented further flooding.
Pedestrians were just about able to negotiate huge floodwaters under the railway bridge and a steady stream of folk on foot from Castlefields and beyond made the journey in and out.
Many businesses decided not to open and the town's two shopping centres at The Darwin and Riverside Centres made the decision early on to close.
Other businesses, although not flooded directly, had made the decision not to open and had signs placed in their windows. Coffee shops were still doing a roaring trade and footfall into town picked up during the morning.
There was so much flooding in Raven Meadows that delivery lorries were unable to make it in. Security guards were only allowing tenants in, but no shoppers.
Among businesses at the sharp end in Mardol, family firm Watson & Thornton were left with wet carpets and cellars full of water.
Pascale Thornton, aged 34, has been at the family haberdashery business for 10 of its estimated 47 years.
She and her colleague, Brian Machin, 63, spent most of Monday evening moving stock to higher shelves. Sandbags were placed on the outside but they could only hold back so much.
"Water will find a way," said Mr Machin, who has worked for the business since 1973.
And Pascale said: "We are pleased that the forecasts of 6 metre floods did not come true, we would have been inundated and the water would have been far further up the road."
They are planning to open as the water recedes, and on Tuesday afternoon were planning a teaching session upstairs as customers could tip-toe in over their sandbags.
"The worst thing is being closed," said Pascale. "We are not taking any money and this kind of thing could easily break any company on top of covid. Businesses closer to the junction have been hit worse than us.
"Luckily we do have some very loyal customers."
Pipes leading from water-filled cellars pumping out water into the street were a common sight this morning as companies tried to get the water out of their cellars, or at least to hold it back.
One of those was shop owner Steph Garrington, aged 31, who started her Bridal Reloved shop, in Hills Lane, in October 21 and has been through the floods of 2020, 2021 and now 2022, as well as the covid-enforced closures.
"The water in the cellar is the highest I have seen it," she said. "The pumps are just about stopping it coming into the main shop.
"I had to move all the dresses away from the shop because if the water got to them they would be ruined."
Steph, who lives in the town, said: "Shrewsbury is a real hub for bridal businesses, people come here for a day out as well and I have the best location when I am not flooded."
While she was unable to open, Steph was busy removing the paint from her shop floor to restore the original tiles to full view.
"Brides have been cancelling and I have closed the shop," she said. "But hopefully they will come back once the floods have gone away."
A dance company called Burn the Floor, who were performing at Theatre Severn on Monday evening found themselves unable to get back to the Premier Inn in Smithfield.
A social media appeal for wading equipment appears to have been successful as they were seen by Shropshire Star photographer getting onto a bus out of town.
Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski has also written to the Prime Minister, urging him to visit the town.
In his letter, Mr Kawczynski asks Boris Johnson to "to see the extent of the devastation" homes and businesses in Shrewsbury.