Shrewsbury on tenterhooks as flood levels continue to rise

Six flood warnings and 12 flood alerts were in place on Thursday morning covering Shropshire and more locations in the Mid Wales borders.

Vehicles trapped in floodwater behind St Julian's Friars car park in Shrewsbury. Picture: Shropshire Council.
Vehicles trapped in floodwater behind St Julian's Friars car park in Shrewsbury. Picture: Shropshire Council.

Temporary flood barriers are in place at Frankwell in Shrewsbury and in Ironbridge, where the Wharfage has been closed. An upgraded flood warning has now been issued for Ironbridge and Jackfield.

The Environment Agency has issued new information on predicted flooding peaks alongside its flood warning service which is currently automated.

A spokesman said: "We're sharing forecasted river peaks to accompany our #flood warning service, which is automated during industrial action.

"This map shows peaks for the Rivers Severn and Wye. This is a guide as information can change."

The map shows a peak at Welsh Bridge of 4.2 to 4.7m on Saturday (14), at Buildwas between 5.5m and 6m also on Saturday and also on the same day Bridgnorth at 4.5-5m.

The EA adds that for current river levels go to: https://bit.ly/3vUW7BS

Road closure signs put up around the giant Raven Meadows multi-storey car park and on Smithfield Road on Thursday morning proved to be the result of an error.

A spokesperson for Shropshire Council said: "We did have some road closure signs up but they have been taken down now. All the road closure signs people see now are correct. They were put up in error."

River levels have to reach about 5m before Raven Meadows car park closes and forecasts thus far are suggesting that the peak will be between 4.2m and 4.7m.

Coffee Evolution in Shrewsbury lifts its coffee shop as water levels are expected to rise over coming days

Businesses near Smithfield Road and Longden Coleham in Shrewsbury are preparing in case the worst happens. The Shrewsbury Hotel Wetherspoons pub, which recently completed building work to create an outdoor cellar, already has its flood barrier in place.

Ollie Parry, at the Salopian pub, had 70cm of water in his disused old cellar on Thursday morning, with rising river levels.

"We used to panic when the river reached 3.1m - it's now at 3.8m, so we are about 70cm off it coming over the road and into the pub.

"I will be watching the forecasts and will probably start to move furniture when it reaches 4.3m. The latest forecast is for 4,73m which means 20cm deep on Smithfield Road."

Flood barriers in Frankwell car park, Shrewsbury

In Longden Coleham Shropshire Councillor Kate Halliday said her community is "on standby" in case the worst happens.

"There are new flood protection measures like small barriers and pumps that people have in place now, and people are ready and preparing for the worst but waiting for some decent data.

"It should be OK today but it looks like tomorrow could see the worst. It it does reach the predicted 4.7 metres then we will be into more worrying territory. We start to see flooding in Coleham at 4.5 metres."

She added: "My message to people who have not experienced this before is to be prepared - the situation can change. Watch out for flood alerts.

"It is a very stressful time for the small businesses but there are a number of measures in place now. I think most people are thinking 'Oh no, not again', and waiting to know what is happening."

Flood barriers in place at Ironbridge on Tuesday

Businesses in Longden Coleham have a WhatsApp group where up to date information is passed on. And Councillor Halliday added: "Everybody supports each other, if they can they will help each other."

Councillor Halliday is looking forward to the publication of an Environment Agency report into flood prevention in Coleham. She added that something needed to be done to protect properties more effectively from flooding which has been happening every year.

Shrewsbury's Food Bank Plus, which is based at the Barnabus Centre in Longden Coleham, has announced that it will be closed on Friday due to the impact of flooding.

Politicians have raised the issues of flooding in Parliament.

Today in the House of Commons, Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski took part in questions to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP.

Mr Kawczynski said: "What steps her Department is taking to protect communities at risk of flooding?"

Rebecca Pow MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environmental Quality and Resilience, said: "We are investing a record £5.2 billion to deliver around 2,000 flood schemes, benefitting every region of England.

More than three hundred and forty-nine thousand properties have already been protected since 2015, and the Environment Agency has already erected demountable flood barriers in Shrewsbury. These have also been deployed at other locations along the Severn like Ironbirdge, Bugley, and Upton upon Severn and will be monitoring along with the Environment Agency the situation closely."

Mr Kawczynski responded: "Flooding has now become an annual occurrence in Shrewsbury with devastating consequences. I chair the caucus of 40 Conservative Members of Parliament who have the River Severn, Britain’s longest river, flowing through their constituencies.

"I am extremely grateful for the £40 million secured from DEFRA as seed investment for the River Severn Partnership, which is a consortium of councils that represent communities all the way down the River Severn. They are trying to find a holistic solution for managing Britain’s longest river. Earlier this year, we had Treasury officials in Shrewsbury to see for themselves the GVA uplift for our region if we find a holistic solution to managing this river. What more can she do to help us to secure, finally, managing Britain’s longest river?’

The Minister said: "I must thank the honourable member for all the work that he has been doing in his own constituency seen I have been the Water Minister.

"He has done nothing but bend my ear about Shrewsbury and the flood situation.

"Also, his work on the River Severn Partnership, which brings together all of these MPs up and down that important constituency. They have already benefited from significant funding in order to work up schemes and some very useful pilots, and we will be working closely with them.’

North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan has also been on her feet in the Commons Chamber raising the issue of flooding in the upper Severn catchment.

"It is the fourth year in a row we have seen flooding, record flooding over the last three years," she said. She asked what discussions have been had with the Welsh Government over managing the Upper Severn catchment.

Rebecca Pow said: "Not very long ago I went on a visit to the Vrynwy Reservoir. Apparently it is the first time a minister has ever been there and I held a round table with their equivalent of the Environment Agency but the Welsh Environment Minister declined to join us."

A yellow warning for rain is in place across parts of Mid Wales and south Shropshire until 5pm on Thursday.

Heavy rain could swamp some homes and businesses and winds of up to 60mph are expected in parts of the UK, forecasters have warned.

There were four flood warnings - meaning flooding is expected in place for Shropshire on Thursday morning, for the River Severn at Frankwell and at the Showground and The Quarry, in Shrewsbury, the River Vyrnwy at Maesbrook and the River Vyrnwy at Melverley. Two more were added a few hours later for the Teme at Stanford Bridge, downstream of Ludlow.

Flood alerts, meaning flooding is possible, were in place for the River Severn in Shropshire, Ledwyche Brook and River Rea, Lower Teme, Rea Brook and Cound Brook, River Dee catchment in England from Whitchurch to Chester, River Lugg North of Leominster, Severn Vyrnwy confluence, Tern and Perry catchments and Upper Teme. Other alerts were added for tributaries of the severn.

Public toilets in Shrewsbury's Quarry and in Sydney Avenue at the Weir have been closed.

In Shrewsbury both the Frankwell riverside and Frankwell main car parks have been closed. and on Thursday morning St Julian's Friars car park was also closed due to rising river levels.

Shropshire Council has tweeted a picture of vehicles in the rising water behind St Julian's Friars car park. The vehicles were later removed.

A spokesman said: "URGENT. The drivers of these vehicles need to take urgent action. Please move your vehicles before the water levels rise further."

Craig Jackson, of Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service has warned of the dangers from flooding.

He tweeted: "River levels are continuing to rise meaning some roads in Shropshire will be flooded.

"If you are cut off from flood water then please ensure that you have working smoke alarms.

"Please DO NOT drive through flood water and ignore road closures."

A council spokesman advises using the town's park and ride services to travel into town.

The spokesman said: "For those needing to park in the town centre we recommend Abbey Foregate car park but our preferred advice and recommendation is where feasible to use park and ride for your visit and help reduce traffic congestion within our lovely town centre."

For Shrewsbury car park updates see: https://orlo.uk/UpKpf

And for latest flood information: https://orlo.uk/pTFwQ

Roads have been closed close to the south Shropshire border at Leintwardine by flood water.

Herefordshire Council said the A4110 and 4113, Leintwardine are closed due to flooding and advised drivers to avoid the area.

The bad weather also lead to the closure of Chirk Castle where winds mean a risk of falling old trees.

Chirk Castle National Trust tweeted: "The estate will be closed today, Thursday 12 January, due to high winds. Because of the number of old and veteran trees along the footpaths and driveways there's a danger of falling trees and branches. Please don't walk on the estate."

There has been so much rainfall in Wales that reservoirs that were well down during the summer are now full.

A video on Twitter shows water flowing over the top of the Elan Valley reservoir, which feeds Birmingham.

And Clare Dinnis, the Environment Agency's area director for the West Midlands, tweeted: "The difference a few weeks makes!

"Clywedog and Vyrnwy are critical for River Severn flows but got v low in 2022: Vrynwy down to 37 per cent.

"After two wet months, levels are up and now Vyrnwy is full.

"These extremes are typical of climate change in action."

A spokesperson for bus company Arriva said they would let customers know if their routes are affected by flooding.

They said: "All bus services in Shrewsbury are subject to change or cancellation, when roads are closed because of flooding in the town centre.

"If and when changes do need to be implemented, we’ll immediately make customers aware via our social media channels, website and journey planning app."

In the south of the county Ludlow Town Council warned of the rising River Teme.

"If you are parked at the Linney, Ludlow - please move your car. The river Teme is rising quickly," said an announcement on Facebook.

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