Shropshire Star

New Year Shropshire flood could be nearly as severe as 2020, says Environment Agency

Residents and businesses across the county were hoping for the best but fearing for the worst as the River Severn continues to rise.

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The Environment Agency (EA) has said that the rising river levels may be close to the flood of 2020, when severe weather warnings were issued for Ironbridge and Shrewsbury after three weeks of downpours which started with Storm Ciara.

The EA has said towns such as Shrewsbury, Ironbridge and Bridgnorth are all in the firing line as water levels on the River Severn are not set to peak until Thursday afternoon.

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: "Further rainfall is forecast and we expect river levels to remain high for the next few days.

"We are closely monitoring the situation. Our incident response staff are checking defences and liaising with Local Authorities.

"Please plan driving routes to avoid low lying roads near rivers, which may be flooded and be prepared to activate any property flood protection products you may have, such as flood barriers and air brick covers."


The River Severn in Bridgnorth was already rising very is close to the record levels as areas of the town found themselves underwater on Wednesday evening.

The market town has seen flooding in many low lying areas in Low Town, including Riverside, Severnside and the Rugby Club where the pitch was completely submerged on Wedneday afternoon, as well as parts of Severn Park.

The Environment Agency, said the level of the river on Wednesday evening was at 4.63 metres but that it was "steady". However, the agency warned that it was not expected to peak until Thursday afternoon and were predicting the levels of up to 5 metres - well above its normal range of 3.6 metres and close to the record 5.26 metres seen in November 2020.


In Ironbridge, the river level at Buildwas was recorded at 5.76 metres on Wednesday evening and was still rising and well above its normal range of 3.4 metres.

The river is set to peak at Buildwas at around 6.0-6.5 metres by Thursday evening, the Environment Agency has said.

Buildwas Road, The Lloyds, Ferry Road and The Wharfage were all closed on Wednesday due to flooding.

The flood barriers went up last week and traffic lights, road signs and flood pumps were being installed at Dale End on Tuesday.

Businesses were open in The Gorge as usual on Wednesday.

However, Carolyn Healy, Telford and Wrekin councillor for Ironbridge Gorge said: "This is a worse situation than previously expected. Levels of 6m to 6.5m at Buildwas gauge means several properties in the Ironbridge Gorge will flood."

She added that teams are contacting affected residents and providing support.


At Welsh Bridge in Shrewsbury, the river level 4.4 metres and still rising - well above its 2.7 metre normal range, but short of the record 5.25 metres that was seen in November 2000.

In Shrewsbury, householders at the Coton Manor Flats, off Berwick Road in Shrewsbury, hope they are better prepared this year than for previous floods as they have had six high volume pumps installed to try to keep their massive basement cleared.

Tom Fountain and Tia Williamson at the back of the Coton Manor flats

Tia Williamson, aged 26, is a tenant on the ground floor, and had to spend six months out to allow for the last flood to clear out in 2022.

"I think our chances are now a lot better than they were," she said. "Having the pumps installed gives me improved peace of mind but they are very noisy and I can't sleep because of it."

Tom Fountain, aged 68, is a director on the flats' tenants group which took control of the building and its 68 homes. They now can decide what to spend service charges on and applied for grant funding for the six high volume pumps.

Residents at Coton Manor flats are bracing themselves for more flooding
Pumps are also working to keep water out

They also arranged for flood barrier doors to be put in place in case the water rises to the 4.9m top of the range forecast which would make it one of the worst floods experienced in the county town, but the system has never been tested in a serious flood before.

"We need a serious flood to test it, but we don't want that flood," said Mr Fountain.

"It must be a nightmare for everyone on the ground floor, and we are hoping that by putting the barriers up will protect them but we cannot guarantee it."

Residents at Coton Manor flats are bracing themselves for more flooding

The building itself has proven to be practically uninsurable with policies quoted in the low hundreds of thousands of pounds. Excesses are also in the six-figure bracket. The cost per occupier would be impossible to afford, said Mr Fountain.

"If the water rises to 5m it will test the flood barriers but we won't know for sure if they work until we get that flood."

Elsewhere in Shrewsbury, pumps are taking water out of basements of properties in Chester Street, sandbags are piled up and flood barriers are in place on front door steps.

The river in flood at Greyfriars footbridge from Shrewsbury into Longden Coleham

Roads were closed off, cones put out in Smithfield Road, as traffic passed but with closure looking more likely with every passing hour.

The drains at Smithfield Road revealed the true level of the river to be less than a foot under the road near The Salopian Bar where Ollie Parry has been for 18 years.

He knows the levels at which his pub floods intimately, and he looks regularly at the river measurements. This time round his cellars are above ground and he has abandoned his basement to whatever nature throws at it.

With the big FA Cup clash between Shrewsbury and Wrexham on Sunday he is hoping that the flooding does not enter the bar areas. If that happens he will have an inch of sludge to clear out of the pub.

Ollie Parry showing where the flood water could rise to at The Salopian in Smithfield Road

Ollie said at 4.99m the water would be in the pub, and he would have to close.

He also has a weather eye on what might happen at the weekend following the deluge from Storm Henk and the multiple flood warnings out on the flood plain in the border countryside.

"It takes the water 48 to 72 hours to come off the Welsh hills and into Shrewsbury," he said. "Potentially, with all the rain we had in Shropshire and Wales it could potentially be a record and that is a lot of water.

"If it is worse case scenario doomsday and we do have a record flood Friday night or Saturday we'll obviously be shut and we'll miss the big game on Sunday."

Flooding is affecting land close to the River Severn
Shrewsbury flooding at St Julian's Friars / Greyfriars Bridge

His staff is on standby to move everything up away from ground floor level with a couple of hours notice.

The pumps were also out in Victoria Avenue, which has been closed off, and at Mardol, sandbags were at the ready in case the water crosses Smithfield Road. New flood barriers were also in place ready at the Shrewsbury Hotel Wetherspoon.

On the other side of the river at Longden Coleham, a massive pool of water was growing and spreading out.

The flooding starts at Longden Coleham
Barriers in place at St Julian's Friars car park

Barnabas Church had implemented its flood plan, with people busily stacking valuable stock out of reach of the flood waters, and removing doors to stop them expanding if the water gets in.

Foodbank Plus, a Barnabas Community Project, had decided to close and shift foods out of reach.

Karen Williams, of Foodbank Plus, said: "We have implemented our flood plan and decided to close. We will reopen as soon as we can. Please watch for our updates on out website and on Facebook."