Storm Babet: Suffolk declares major incident and Framlingham Mere bursts its banks

  • ITV News Anglia's Andy Ward reports on the destruction left by Storm Babet

Residents in a town had to be moved to safety after a lake burst its banks, as Storm Babet brought downpours across the region.

There was widespread flooding in Framlingham, Suffolk, after the Mere burst its banks, with cars seen underwater and homes flooded.

People were moved to safety in a nearby church.

Down the road in Debenham, around 50 people spent Friday night sheltering in their local leisure centre after the village was cut off.

A major incident was declared in the county on Friday, as persistent rain and high winds caused flooding and major disruption across the East of England.

It meant people in Suffolk were advised not to travel unless essential and the chief fire officer warned that "we must all take action to ensure lives are protected".

Flooding near Brinkley and Haverhill. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The measure was taken because of the increasing number of flooded roads, and the impact on schools, health and care services, and the emergency services. 

A major incident is called when the situation is believed to be beyond ‘business-as-usual’ operations and there is a heightened risk of serious harm, damage, disruption or threat to human life or welfare. 

Jon Lacey, Suffolk’s chief fire officer, said: “Although the Suffolk Resilience Forum will continue to do all it can to help protect our county, everyone needs to take precautions to ensure they do not put themselves in danger.”

This football pitch in Clare in Suffolk was left underwater following hours of heavy rain. Credit: ITV News Anglia

While Scotland and the north of the UK are bearing the brunt, the Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for rain across the East of England throughout Friday and into Saturday morning.

Roads in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire have been worst hit in the East.

In Norfolk, the A11 in Thetford, and A47 in Easton and Honington is closed due to flooding, as of Friday afternoon. Police said the A47 will stay closed until Saturday.

In Suffolk, the A1120 in Earl Soham continues to be blocked due to flooding.

  • A car travelling through a flooded road near Brinkley, Cambridgeshire, and Haverhill, Suffolk

There were delays and disruption on trains, and some schools had to close - Norfolk County Council said there were 10 closures.

Events and sports fixtures have been affected too.

In football, Ipswich Town's Championship fixture at Rotherham, originally scheduled for 8pm on Friday, was postponed. The club made the announcement just three hours before it was due to start.

Fakenham Racecourse also called off Friday's jumps fixtures, saying 17mm of rain had fallen since 2.30am and that the "situation will only get worse".

Flooding in Cambridgeshire as Storm Babet hits the East of England Credit: Chris Mitchell

Meanwhile, in Lowestoft, Suffolk, community members have been celebrating the opening of Lowestoft's new tidal flood walls.

The formal ceremony took place on the South Pier.

The opening of Lowestoft’s new tidal flood walls during Storm Babet. Credit: ITV Anglia

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said the amount of rain being brought in by Storm Babet meant “conditions on the roads are proving extremely difficult”.

He added: “We urge drivers to heed the warnings, especially where flooding has already happened or is likely over the next few days.

“Drivers should never attempt to drive through floodwater as the risks are just too great.

“It’s vital anyone who absolutely has to travel prepares themselves for a longer journey, or considers waiting until the storm has passed before making it.”

AA patrol of the year Nick Powell urged drivers to be “very cautious, especially in rural or woody areas”.

He said: “If you see twigs or small branches on the road it could be a sign that a tree has fallen just around the bend, so pay extra attention to the path up ahead.

“As always in wet and windy weather, leave plenty of space behind other vehicles and adjust your speed to suit the conditions, especially when crossing bridges or passing high-sided vehicles.”

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