Storm Christoph: Elderly residents rescued from retirement home as flood waters rise

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry

Dozens of elderly residents have been rescued from their retirement home as Storm Christoph caused widespread flooding across the UK.

The residents were seen being evacuated in dinghies from retirement village, Weaver Court in Northwich, Cheshire in a Twitter post by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry.

One retirement home resident told ITV News: "I am enjoying it - two men, one on each arm."

Not all were as chipper, with another admitting: "I am OK. I am just a bit frightened inwardly."

Large parts of the Cheshire town were seen submerged under water.

Roads into the town centre have been closed and pedestrians are being asked to avoid the area due to footpaths being “under numerous inches of water”, police said on Twitter.

Elsewhere, a “large number” of properties in an area of South Wales had to be evacuated due to flooding, police said.

South Wales Police said the emergency services were in attendance in Goshen Park, in the Skewen area of Neath, following reports of a large number of properties being evacuated due to flooding.

Neath Port Talbot Council was urging members of the public to avoid the area.

A video posted on social media appeared to show fast-moving water passing people’s homes in Goshen Park.

In Lymm, Cheshire, Gabrielle Burns-Smith, her partner and dog have moved upstairs as she watched the waters rising.

Check out the latest flood warnings across the country

They are now stranded in the house as the flood water is too deep.

She said: “At 1am I sat and just watched the water coming through the back door.

“It started to snow and the guys from the council delivered sandbags to us in the snow.”

It comes as heavy rain and snow continued to fall across England and Wales, with many rivers at “dangerously high levels”, the Environment Agency said.

Gabrielle Burns-Smith looks out from her flooded home on the outskirts of Lymm in Cheshire Credit: Joe Giddens/PA

Emergency teams were forced to work "through the night" to protect supplies of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as flood water threatened buildings at Wockhardt’s pharmaceutical manufacturing facility on Wrexham Industrial Estate.

Met forecaster John Griffiths said Aberllefenni in Wales had seen the UK’s highest amount of rainfall from Storm Christoph, with 187.8mm dumped over the last 56 hours.

He added Bolton in Greater Manchester recorded the highest rainfall in England at 150.4mm over the same amount of time – more than the region’s average for the entire month of January.

On a visit to flood-hit Didsbury in south Manchester, to see the impact of Storm Christoph, Boris Johnson said he was "very worried about the risk of flooding every year," and suggested a major tree-planting programme could help protect against flooding in the long term.

He thanked the Environment Agency for their “amazing preparations” and the effort to evacuate people overnight, but warned “there will be further rain overnight”.

Some 2,000 properties in the East Didsbury, West Didsbury and Northenden areas of Greater Manchester were evacuated on Wednesday night because of rising water levels, the city council said.

People were also asked to leave their homes in parts of Ruthin and Bangor on Dee in North Wales, and Maghull in Merseyside, but flood defences held up in many areas.

The prime minister said the Environment Agency had used used sluice gates and “improvised emergency flood defences to protect homes”.

“I think 10,000 homes in the Manchester area, in the Didsbury area, have been protected just as a result of what they have been doing overnight.

“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 and get the Environment Agency flood alerts where they can.”

  • Aerial footage of flooding across the UK

A severe flood warning has been issued for the English River Dee at Farndon in Cheshire, where water levels are expected to peak on Thursday afternoon, according to the Environment Agency.

It said that the “flooding of property is imminent” and that staff were closely monitoring weather forecasts and river levels.

Superintendent Julie Westgate, from Cheshire Constabulary, said a number of residents had been evacuated in Warrington, Northwich, Chester, Ellesmere Port and Tattenhall.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue said on Thursday morning it was in the process of rescuing 21 people by boat from Lea Court nursing home in the town of Warrington

Mr Johnson earlier urged people to heed the flood warnings and evacuate their properties when told to do so.

Lib Dem councillor Richard Kilpatrick said he was among those who had to evacuate overnight after police came knocking on doors in The Beeches in Didsbury, with the local mosque opening its doors.

Footage shows the scale of the flooding in Llanrwst, north Wales

Meanwhile, residents in Maghull were advised to leave their properties as soon as possible after a severe flood warning was issued, Sefton Council said.

A council spokesman said heavy rain had led to raised water levels and flooding from the River Alt which was set to increase.

Downing Street said Covid-secure facilities would be available for any people forced to evacuate as a result of the weather.

Environment secretary George Eustice said the government is preparing for further impacts from unsettled weather, telling MPs on Thursday that it is to launch a consultation on changes to the way funding is allocated for flood and coastal defences.

On his visit to Didsbury, Mr Johnson suggested a major tree-planting programme could help protect against flooding in the long term.

“This government has a very ambitious tree-planting programme, but, in my view, we’re not going fast enough," he said.

“As the spring comes and we come out of the pandemic, we’re going to want to see a lot done to build in long-term resilience against flooding and against climate change, and planting trees is a big part of that.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said there had been a repeated pattern of floods followed by an “inadequate response”.

He told reporters in London: “We need to have a long-lasting solution to this, not promises that then aren’t fulfilled.”

The Environment Agency has issued a further 191 flood warnings across England, with 228 less severe flood alerts, mainly across the Midlands and north of the country.

In Wales, 48 flood warnings and 57 flood alerts are in place, while six flood alerts are in force in Scotland.

Almost the whole of England, Wales and Northern Ireland are subject to yellow weather warnings for rain until Thursday morning, with a more serious amber warning stretching from the East Midlands to the Lake District.

The amber alert warns of the risk of flooding and deep floodwaters which could pose a risk to life, and there are further warnings for snow and ice in Scotland.

An amber warning for snow in parts of southern Scotland warned around 30cm could fall in areas above 400m, with up to 10cm likely to accumulate in lower regions until 8am on Thursday.