Pensioners, some in their 90s, are among thousands of people evacuated from their homes in England and Wales after flooding caused by Storm Christoph.
Three “danger to life” flood warnings were still in place in Cheshire on Thursday afternoon, where 45 elderly residents were evacuated to safety from their retirement village that had been left without electricity and heating since Wednesday.
The storm hit following two days of rain and snow around the north west that has taken parts of the river Mersey to record levels. The body of man was recovered from the river Taff in Cardiff although it remains unclear if his death was storm-related and South Wales police are investigating.
MP describes ‘drastic situation’ – 96-year-old rescued by dinghy
Flood defences failed in Northwich, Cheshire where two care homes were evacuated by firefighters manoeuvring dinghies through the town. Among the pensioners rescued from Weaver Court was a 96-year-old woman whose daughter, the Telegraph reported on Thursday evening, is still trying to contact her.
The paper said “concerns have been raised about the lack of communication with families” while quoting MP for Weaver Vale, Mike Amesbury, who described a “drastic situation” with residents “anxious, elderly and frail and [who] felt somewhat stranded”.
“I have spoken to family members who were really concerned that their loved ones have had no electricity, so no heating since Wednesday night,” said Amesbury, adding he was not aware of anyone suffering medical complications.
“The safety of our residents is our utmost priority,” said a spokesperson for First Port, the retirement village’s management company. “As the development currently has no electricity, we have worked with the Council to safely evacuate residents to a nearby hotel today.
“We will do all we can to support our residents, and to get the development habitable as quickly as possible.”
Roads blocked by floods, more rain forecast next week
Another 21 people were rescued from a nursing home in Warrington, Cheshire with other evacuations taking place in Ellesmere Port, Tattenhall and Chester.
Many roads remain blocked by flood water and fears of further rain and flooding persist, with more showers forecast next week. The prime minister visited a stricken area in Manchester today and said that recently made improvements to flood defences had averted a far worse situation.
“We’ve put £60m into the Greater Manchester area’s flood defences and there’s another £20m on the way,” Boris Johnson said. “Here in Didsbury they’ve managed to protect 10,000 homes by what they’ve done.”
In England, almost 170 flood warnings were in place on Thursday evening with three “severe” notices – signalling danger to life – issued in parts of the north west.
Government spending £5.2bn on flood defences
“There will be more to come, there will be further rain next week, so it is vital that people who are in potentially affected areas follow the advice,” said the prime minister, adding the flooding has a “huge psychological, emotional and financial cost” for people.
Johnson said the government is investing £5.2bn in flood defences over six years. Last year the prime minister faced huge criticism for taking so long to visit flooded areas in England, but was defended by business minister Nadhim Zahawi, who is also responsible for Covid vaccine deployment.
When the hashtag ‘where’s Boris?’ started trending on Twitter in February 2020, Zahawi rhetorically asked: “What’s better? It’s much better for the prime minister to keep his ministers focused on delivery, rather than a media photo opp.”
People affected by flooding have been reminded that Covid laws permit people to leave their homes in an emergency.