Shropshire Star

River Severn floods: Stranded villagers rescued by boat as river cuts off roads

A specialist boat team rescued scores of villagers stranded as their village was cut off by extreme flood water.

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Villagers had to be rescued by a specilist boat team in Melverley

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service set up a specific boat rescue team to help out with people living in Melverley – which was again cut off as a result of the flooding caused by the weekend's deluge.

Melverley has repeatedly been one of the worst affected areas of the county when flooding strikes, with routes in and out of the village cut off by water.

Parish Councillor Rosy Harding said that help provided by the fire service, and volunteers, had made a huge difference.

In this case the team was in place, based at Kinnerley Primary School on Monday, to rescue those trapped in their homes – including a vulnerable elderly resident, a pregnant woman and her family, a child, and several dogs.

In previous years the villagers have received help, but only when they have alerted emergency services to the situation.

Villagers had to be rescued by a specilist boat team in Melverley

Councillor Harding said they were hugely grateful for the pro-active assistance.

It comes as the area experienced its highest levels of flooding ever – higher than that recorded in the floods of 2000.

The water started to go over the flood defences at around 10pm on Saturday, and only stopped at 4.30pm on Monday.

Councillor Harding said: "It has been the highest level we have ever had, full stop. It was a little bit scary.

Villagers had to be rescued by a specilist boat team in Melverley

"There are houses flooded as they always do and the cars have been cut off. If you're at the top end of the village you can get out now if you have a proper 4x4, like a Defender, not an SUV.

"But the one thing that has changed that was really lovely was the fire and rescue service set up an incident centre in Kinnerley School and they were able to do four evacuations.

"There was a team with three firemen with specialist training and three or four volunteers, and that was absolutely wonderful.

"There was a pregnant woman who felt unwell and they were able to get her and her family out, as well as a vulnerable elderly man.

Villagers had to be rescued by a specilist boat team in Melverley

"They could not have been more wonderful and it was so great to finally have that support in a flood situation. Before that it would have been left to us in the village to deal with. We have not had this before and it was so good to have that help.

"The difference it makes to gave proper support from professionals, and they were the nicest three gentlemen, they put everyone at ease and it made such a difference."

The severity of the flooding was so bad that an argae – a dam – restored by the Environment Agency only last year already looks to have been badly damaged.