‘It’s not looking as bad’ – weather prospects improve for soaked communities

A half submerged sign warning drivers of a flooded road is flooded in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire Credit: PA

Almost 100 flood warnings remain in place across England and Wales, as the wet weather finally begins to show signs of subsiding.

Communities in parts of central and northern England are cleaning up after being overwhelmed with water following torrential rain in recent days.

However, things could start to improve over the weekend. When asked whether this was the end of the wet period, forecaster Helen Roberts said: “The simple answer is yes, with the caveat that there will be some rain across the weekend.”

A band of rain will make its way north-westwards across England on Friday night “but it will weaken as it moves through”, Ms Roberts added.

“It’s not looking as bad as recent days or weeks. It’s going to be a quieter spell over the weekend.”

Meanwhile, the Government last night responded to criticism of its support of affected communities by saying it had been offering assistance since the first day of the flooding on November 8.

Part of this had come from the Bellwin scheme, operated by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to help local councils.

“Under Bellwin, local authorities dealing with the flooding can apply to have 100% of their eligible costs, above a threshold, reimbursed by the Government. This could be for items including rest centres, temporary accommodation and staff overtime,” the Ministry said in a statement.

The Ministry said the Government had also activated its Flood Recovery Framework, which helps local authority districts with more than 25 flooded households.

This frees up funding to give eligible households and businesses “immediate relief” from their council tax and business rates for at least the next three months.

Towns and villages around Doncaster and Sheffield, and parts of the Midlands have been particularly affected by the heavy downpours.

In some places, the overnight rain could continue to add to the water levels, and as of 8pm on Friday, there are still 95 flood warnings in place across the regions.

Ms Roberts explained: “Almost certainly in some places it’s going to exacerbate problems, but it’s not looking particularly heavy or persistent, so it should not be as much.

“On Saturday, it will still be quite cloudy across parts of England and Wales, particularly central.”

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service said it had rescued 97 people and a dog in 43 different incidents where vehicles had become stuck in water over Thursday and Friday.

Local transport services have also suffered, as in Gloucester video emerged of a bus attempting to make its way through a flooded road, with water entering the vehicle as it passed through.

There was also disruption to some rail services between Sheffield and Scunthorpe, Doncaster and Goole, and Nottingham and Derby.

On Friday, the Environment Agency (EA) continued to pump water out of Fishlake.

Army soldiers had been working since Wednesday to lay down sandbags and firm up flood defences in the area and in neighbouring Stainforth, but have since been removed.

EA spokesman John Curtin said 38 pumps have been used in Fishlake, adding that all houses in the village should be free of water by Sunday.

Doncaster Council said 970 homes and businesses in the town had been affected since the rain started on November 7.

On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose response to the floods has been criticised by some of those affected, announced that the worst-impacted households and businesses would be eligible for immediate relief on their council tax and business rates.