Police have urged more than 1,300 households to evacuate due to the risk of flooding in parts of Bedfordshire as large swaths of the UK brace for Storm Bella.
Torrential rains have caused widespread flooding in the country, and people must be rescued from vehicles and others evacuated from their homes. The arrival of Storm Bella on Boxing Day will bring more downpours and winds of up to 70 mph in exposed coastal locations, according to the Weather Office.
Bedfordshire Police “strongly urged” residents living near the River Great Ouse in North Bedfordshire to seek alternative accommodation due to concerns about Friday night’s flooding.
Superintendent Steve Ashdown, who is leading the response, said officers had visited more than 1,300 homes in the area Thursday. “The river is currently at elevated levels and we are predicting significant flooding at 8pm tonight,” he said in a video on Twitter.
“If you received one of those notices last night, you are at one of those properties that are most at risk from this flood. We encourage you to leave if it is safe for you to do so, as soon as you can. Appreciating that the timing of this on Christmas Day is not very good, but the risk to you and your family … is significant. “
Ashdown asked residents who were able to leave their homes to do so in a “Covid-safe” way if possible, recommending that they go to one location and remain there until it is safe to return.
The Bedford International Athletic Stadium is used as an emergency assistance center for people who are forced to evacuate their properties.
In a statement, the Bedford city council warned of “significant levels of flooding that will affect Bedford and other parts of the township” and said a safe center for Covid had been established in the sand. The Bromham village hall is also used as a refuge for people who have left their homes.
Due to the flooding, residents were allowed to go to the homes of others, despite current level 4 coronavirus rules.
In another part of Bedfordshire, nine people and three dogs were rescued using an inflatable boat from a flood-affected property in the town of Harrold. The Environment Agency issued two severe flood warnings and 18 flood warnings for the area in and around the county.
Meanwhile, Northamptonshire police continued to urge people to stay away from the Billing Aquadrome holiday park, after hundreds of people were evacuated on Christmas Eve due to high water levels in the River Nene. On Thursday, the Environment Agency issued two severe flood warnings for the river, indicating a risk to life.
The force said on Twitter that water levels had reached 5 feet in some places, and emergency services used boats to get residents in the worst affected areas to safety.
Most of the evacuees were able to find accommodation to spend the night with friends and family, with a special exemption from Covid-19 restrictions, while about 100 people were transferred to a hotel.
Det Superintendent Jamie Piscopo said: “Emergency services are working hard to ensure that residents can return to the site as soon as possible, however it is currently not safe to do so. We urge them to stay away until such time as it is safe to return. “
Across England, a total of 83 flood warnings and 102 flood warnings, as well as the two severe flood warnings, remained in effect at 5 p.m. on Christmas Day as large amounts of water flowed through the watersheds.
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