Storm Christoph: Residents evacuated as flood warnings remain in place

One "severe" flood warning and a number of flood warnings remain in place after hundreds of residents were told to leave their homes overnight because of adverse weather caused by Storm Christoph.

Homes were flooded following heavy rainfall and snow showers in Cheshire, with roads disrupted and residents in the county warned that river levels were still rising on Thursday.

Residents were evacuated overnight in the Didsbury and Northenden areas of Greater Manchester, with the Government preparing for further impacts from unsettled weather.

A severe flood warning has been issued for the English River Dee at Farndon in Cheshire, where water levels were 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.

The Major Incident declared by Greater Manchester Police on Tuesday evening has now been "stood down" but severe warnings remain in place for Bollington.

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey also promised that resources would not be withdrawn from affected areas in light of the move.

The RSPA have also been working alongside the respondents to protect animals affected by the flooding.

Mr Johnson visited Didsbury this morning after homes were evacuated. Credit: PA

This morning the Prime Minister visited Didsbury and inspected the storm basin by the River Mersey, he suggested that a tree-planting programme could be used to enhance flood defences.

He said: "One idea that everybody in the Environment Agency talks about, and I believe in absolutely passionately, is planting trees on the higher ground to help absorb some of that rainfall, to help mitigate the effects of flooding.

"This Government has a very ambitious tree-planting programme, but, in my view, we're not going fast enough.

"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."

Mr Johnson also defended the government's record on funding flood defences in the region.

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A number of road closures are in place in the North West. You can keep up to date with the travel news here.

People are being advised to only travel in affected areas if it is essential and to be wary of standing water and potential road closures.

Following heavy rain and snow, Greater Manchester Police warned of the risk of "treacherous ice" on the roads and urged drivers to be cautious and only travel if essential.

Meanwhile, Northern is advising customers not to travel on many of its routes in the north west until at least 12pm, due to increasingly poor conditions following torrential rain across the region.

Many living near the River Mersey in East and West Didsbury and Northenden have been told to evacuate their homes.

Residents in Maghull were also advised to leave their properties after a severe flood warning was issued due to "unprecedented" water levels at Dover Brook near the River Alt, Sefton Council said.

But as rain overnight was not as heavy as predicted, this was replaced with a flood warning on Thursday, according to the council.

The Environment Agency said that while this was "good news", it expected water levels to remain high throughout the day with flooding to properties still possible.

Three yellow weather warnings have been issued by the Met Office, including an ice warning in place until 10am on Friday for the North West.

Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said: "Colder air is now established across the UK as Storm Christoph moves away into the North Sea, and gale force winds will impact the northeast of the country."

Ross Williamson and his family live 20 metres away from the River Mersey in Didsbury. They have spent the night at Didsbury Mosque.

A refuge centre has opened at the nearby Forum in Wythenshawe - which Manchester City Council has assured those needing its help, is Covid secure.

The council added: "If someone is asked to leave their home and need to stay with family or friends temporarily due to flooding, they will not be in breach of coronavirus laws, which allow for exceptions including to escape the risk of harm - and no legal action will be taken.  

"However, people should still take precautions to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus – remember to wear a face covering, keep your distance from others outside of your household or bubble, and wash hands regularly.

"Manchester City Council has also set up a Covid-safe emergency rest centre at Wythenshawe Forum in case anyone is told to evacuate because of flooding and has nowhere else to go."

The Environment Agency has advice for people who may be affected by flooding:

Floodline: 0345 988 1188