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Shropshire flooding: Town centre roads back open in Shrewsbury as water levels drop

By Dominic Robertson | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

Town centre roads in Shrewsbury are gradually being reopened today after much flood water cleared overnight.

Smithfield Road flooded in Shrewsbury town centre. Photo: Tom James Clark

Large sections of the town centre were closed on Monday and Tuesday due to flooding but the River Severn levels continued to drop overnight, making many roads accessible again but covered in debris.

English and Welsh bridges were open again first thing today and Smithfield Road, Coton Hill and Smithfield Road were all opened after being cleared by council workers this morning, although Coleham Head remains shut.

WATCH: Drone footage shows Shrewsbury flooding

Shrewsbury, UK, Quarry Floods Feb 2020, drone footage

Council workers have been out cleaning up debris since the early hours and had hoped to open riverside Smithfield Road at 9am but the damage was said to be worse than expected.

Two road sweepers and a gully-emptying crew started work on Smithfield Road at 5am before moving onto the Chester Street Gyratory and Longden Coleham, where businesses were back open today despite having been under water yesterday.

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Meanwhile the council car parks in Frankwell and St Julian's Friars remain closed, although the Raven Meadows multi-storey car park is back open with access from the Smithfield Road/Raven Meadows junction only.

Businesses have been left counting the cost of the flooding after the river rose to its highest level since the November 2000 floods in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Much of the Quarry was left under water, while some residents and business owners were hit particularly hard due to having no insurance.

A kayaker in the Quarry Park, Shrewsbury, on Monday afternoon. Photo: Russell Davies

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The Severn peaked at 4.85m at Welsh Bridge but had dropped to under 4m by 9am today. It reached 5.25m in the 2000 floods.

The Kingsland Toll Bridge was left as the only access route over the river into the town centre and with Coton Hill and and Longden Coleham shut there was major congestion throughout the town.

Business as usual in Coleham

It was business as usual today in one of the worst-hit areas of Shrewsbury as shop and cafe owners refused to be defeated by the severe flooding.

Staff and community volunteers rallied to rid premises of the last of the muddy water and damaged stock, while council workers were deployed to clear and reopen the roads in Longden Coleham.

“We were under about five inches of water on Monday afternoon,” said Sam Jewell, owner of House Coffee Co.

“It started coming up from the bottom of the road and went up as far as the Belle gift shop.

“We came in on Tuesday and started brushing the water out through the door, then we had to disinfect everything. It took nine of us three hours.”

Flooding in Coleham

Through the windows, council employees could be seen sweeping debris from the river off the sides of the roads, behind orange barriers closing the street to traffic.

“These barriers didn’t come until Tuesday morning,” said Sam.

“Until then cars were still trying to come through the water. A couple of shops only flooded because of the waves created by cars.”

Mr Jewell praised the Coleham community for helping the business through an uncertain few days.

“The support from the customers and friends and family is what’s helped us reopen so quickly.

“We have had hundreds of people offering help.”

Flooding in Coleham, Shrewsbury, on Monday afternoon

This spirit was echoed by residents, who were quick to pledge their support to the recovering businesses to help them get back on their feet.

Eric Mapp, who lives just outside Shrewsubry, said: “There is no doubt businesses will feel the effects of the flooding in more ways than one.

“Even those who were not actually flooded will have seen a drop in their turnover in the last few days when the roads and car parks have been shut and buses couldn’t get into town.

“I have come in on the park and ride but I know some people have just avoided coming in full stop. On Tuesday it was like a ghost town.”

Council workers in Coleham on Wednesday

Sheila Leslie had travelled in from Telford to check on elderly relatives. She said: “It is devastating to see shops and businesses that you have been in so badly flooded. I saw photos on social media on Tuesday evening and it was shocking.

"Everyone has been saying that the business owners have all been amazing, they have just picked themselves up and got on with getting back open again."

“When I got here this morning I was not expecting to see shops open but it looks like they all are.

“For small businesses this kind of thing can have a real impact – we need to support them more than ever.”

Road closures

A number of other roads remained closed around the county this morning.

In Shrewsbury they included Sydney Avenue, Roushill, Old Coleham, Coleham Head, Victoria Avenue, St Julian’s Friars, the B5067 Berwick Road, the B4380 Shrewsbury to Atcham road, the B4380 Cressage to Eaton Constantine, Atcham to Berwick Wharf, Atcham to Cross Houses road, Chilton Farm road, Priory Road, Gravel Hill Lane and Williams Way.

In South Shropshire they included the B4368 Clun to Newcastle (road slip), A442 Sutton Maddock to Bandon Island, Doctors Lane Bridgnorth, Riverside, Bridgnorth, Severn Side South Bridgnorth, and Underhill Street – where there is a single lane closure as a precaution.

In North Shropshire a number of roads were still affected including the B5069 Gobowen Road, Oswestry, Colliery Road, St Martins, Clarke’s Lane, St Martins, Burma Road, and Park Hall, Whittington.

Meanwhile in Bridgnorth the Severn reached its highest since 2000 on Tuesday evening but did start to recede overnight.

In Ironbridge the temporary flood defences held against the weight of the water, with the level peaking at around 6.52m overnight.

It had dropped by 20cm but a severe flood warning – which indicates danger to life – is still in place.

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