Defences ‘holding up’ in flood-threatened Worcestershire town

Defences in a flood-threatened Worcestershire town are “holding up” – but more rain is on the way.

In Bewdley, which straddles the River Severn north of Worcester, the barriers that protect businesses and homes on either bank were enough to keep the water at bay on Wednesday.

The river had been expected to peak of about 5.2 metres – well above normal levels.

The Environment Agency is keeping a close eye on the defences there and in other places along the Severn, including Ironbridge upstream and Upton-upon-Severn downstream.

The barriers in Bewdley have been doing their job, despite a “remarkable” amount of water still working its way down the river channel.

A steady stream of curious onlookers have been drawn to the historic town’s main bridge – currently closed – to see how close the water has come to topping the barriers.

However, Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service has warned people against taking the risk of getting too close to floodwaters simply to get pictures.

“Stay away from flood areas if you don’t have a genuine reason to be there,” the brigade said.

Residents are carrying on as normal despite the water rushing past a few yards away, with businesses open as normal.

The closure of the main road has seen community members setting up a free bus route, with a vintage double-decker taking people from one side of the town.

The water is at its highest level in the town for 20 years, according to the Environment Agency, which is preparing for more rain.

Dave Throup, Environment Agency manager for Herefordshire and Worcestershire, said: “As it stands, our defences are all holding up.

“There’s huge amount of water against them so we’re monitoring that very closely at the moment. But at the moment things are okay at Bewdley.”

Winter weather Feb 19th 2020
Winter weather Feb 19th 2020

Attention is starting to turn to the situation down-river, where levels in Worcester – which had dropped back in the last two days – are expected to rise again.

Mr Throup said: “Further down towards Upton-upon-Severn, we still have severe flood warnings in place there and that’s because we do expect levels to rise again slightly and they are already exceptionally high.

“So we will be monitoring that again very closely through today with staff at Upton.”

As time goes on the water will feed down into Gloucestershire, where “some big levels” are expected later.

“The only saving factor there is there’s not much water coming down the River Avon,” Mr Throup said. “So that may allow things to spread out a little bit.

“Unfortunately it’s not out of the woods, even then, because we’re looking at rainfall for today, tomorrow and right through the weekend, which potentially could affect the tops of the catchments, which is just not where we want to be at all.

“But we will be prepared, so we’re working with our forecasters on that for scenarios going through the weekend.”