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Thousands of people told to evacuate homes on Christmas Day after flooding in Bedfordshire

Thousands have been told to evacuate their homes on Christmas Day after widespread flooding in Bedfordshire as emergency shelter is set up in a village hall.  

Residents living near the River Great Ouse in north Bedfordshire were urged to leave their homes and seek alternative accommodation due to the risk of flooding.

Bedfordshire Police tweeted that people should seek alternative housing – which overrides the current Covid-19 regulations.    

Superintendent Steve Ashdown said: ‘A number of serious flood warnings are now in place across the north of the country where we are expecting flooding, including some for serious flooding which has the potential to endanger life. 

‘We contacted 1,309 properties along the river last night and suggested they evacuate, and we would strongly reiterate this advice again based on latest information.’

He added: ‘River levels are extremely high and we are expecting this to have a significant impact across Bedford Borough over the next 24 hours. 

‘The fact this is happening on Christmas Day makes the situation even worse, especially after the disruption so many of us have had to our plans already, and I really do sympathise with people.

‘But this is a really serious situation and we need people to take action in order to keep themselves safe.’ 

Covid-safe emergency assistance centres have been set up by the council at the Bedford International Athletic Stadium and Bromham Village Hall for people who have been evacuated from their homes and have nowhere else to go.   

Because of the flood threat, residents ordered to evacuate by officials ‘are permitted to go to other people’s homes, despite the Tier Four Covid-19 regulations currently in place,’ the council said.

It added that people should only take what is needed, such as medication, and people should turn off gas, water and electricity and move any valuables upstairs.  

Families last night grabbed unopened presents as flooding forced them to evacuate their homes on the night before Christmas  – with Storm Bella set to bring two inches of rain and 70mph gales on Boxing Day.  

Hundreds were evacuated from their homes and vehicles following a period of heavy rain on Christmas Eve, with severe flood warnings issued for the River Nene in Northamptonshire indicating a risk to life.

Across England, a total of 111 flood warnings and 137 flood alerts, as well as the two severe flood warnings, remained in force at 5am on Christmas Day as huge amounts of water flowed through river catchments.

Northamptonshire Police said the emergency services were working through the night to evacuate more than 1,000 people from the Billing Aquadrome Holiday Park in Northampton. The force said the heavy rain had caused flooding with water up to 5ft deep in places. 

St Ives, Cambridgeshire, after the River Great Ouse burst its banks. More bad weather is forecast for Boxing Day with Storm Bella expected to bring heavy rain 

Hundreds were evacuated from their homes and vehicles following a period of heavy rain on Christmas Eve, with severe flood warnings issued for the River Nene in Northamptonshire indicating a risk to life. Pictured: Billings Aquadrome today

Hundreds were evacuated from their homes and vehicles following a period of heavy rain on Christmas Eve, with severe flood warnings issued for the River Nene in Northamptonshire indicating a risk to life. Pictured: Billings Aquadrome today

Across England, a total of 111 flood warnings and 137 flood alerts, as well as the two severe flood warnings, remained in force at 5am on Christmas Day as huge amounts of water flowed through river catchments. Pictured: Billings Aquadrome

Across England, a total of 111 flood warnings and 137 flood alerts, as well as the two severe flood warnings, remained in force at 5am on Christmas Day as huge amounts of water flowed through river catchments. Pictured: Billings Aquadrome

There were also evacuations in Norfolk and Suffolk as families prepared for Christmas Day last night, with a major incident declared by emergency services. Water levels on the River Waveney in Bungay are still being monitored today as some Britons returned home to dry out their sodden carpets and furniture.

In Cambridgeshire, floodwater was knee-deep in Peterborough after it overwhelmed the banks of the River Nene, with Britons seen wading through murky water to check on their boats and property on Christmas Day.

The River Severn and Avon also burst their banks in Tewkesbury, with dramatic aerial images showing homes and  dangerously close to the floodwater on Christmas morning.  

The heavy rain is set to continue later today, with up to two inches of rain expected to fall in high areas following a largely clear and dry conditions, the Met Office said. ‘Recent wet weather and saturated ground makes this area more sensitive than usual to further heavy rainfall, especially across parts of southern Wales,’ it was added.

Cars are submerged in water after the River Great Ouse burst its banks causing severe flooding in the region

Cars are submerged in water after the River Great Ouse burst its banks causing severe flooding in the region 

The arrival of Storm Bella on Boxing Day will bring further downpours and winds of up to 70mph in exposed coastal locations. 

Alex Burkill, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said: ‘Christmas Eve night into Christmas Day is going to be very cold, with harsh widespread frost first thing Christmas morning.

‘So it could be a White Christmas in as much as lots of people are going to wake up to a frost.’

Light flurries of snow were seen on Christmas Eve, including on the North East coast.

He continued: ‘They’ll be very light, scattered, not everywhere will see them by any means, and for most areas it’s going to be a pretty dry day, just cold, but there is a chance we could see a few showers of snow across eastern parts of England, particularly early on Christmas Day.’

Aerial view of flooding at sunrise this Christmas Day around Tewkesbury following days of torrential rain that has caused the River Severn and Avon to rise and burst their banks where they meet

Aerial view of flooding at sunrise this Christmas Day around Tewkesbury following days of torrential rain that has caused the River Severn and Avon to rise and burst their banks where they meet

The River Severn and Avon also burst their banks in Tewkesbury, with dramatic aerial images showing homes and dangerously close to the floodwater on Christmas morning

The River Severn and Avon also burst their banks in Tewkesbury, with dramatic aerial images showing homes and dangerously close to the floodwater on Christmas morning

The heavy rain is set to continue later today, with up to two inches of rain expected to fall in high areas following a largely clear and dry conditions, the Met Office said. Pictured: Tewkesbury today

The heavy rain is set to continue later today, with up to two inches of rain expected to fall in high areas following a largely clear and dry conditions, the Met Office said. Pictured: Tewkesbury today

The arrival of Storm Bella on Boxing Day will bring further downpours and winds of up to 70mph in exposed coastal locations

The arrival of Storm Bella on Boxing Day will bring further downpours and winds of up to 70mph in exposed coastal locations

Alex Burkill, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said: 'Christmas Eve night into Christmas Day is going to be very cold, with harsh widespread frost first thing Christmas morning'

Alex Burkill, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said: ‘Christmas Eve night into Christmas Day is going to be very cold, with harsh widespread frost first thing Christmas morning’

Pictured: A sunrise over Tewkesbury Abbey as floodwater lingers dangerously close to properties after heavy rains

Pictured: A sunrise over Tewkesbury Abbey as floodwater lingers dangerously close to properties after heavy rains

The focus for many will be on the rain that has already fallen after the wet conditions brought flooding including in the Midlands. Pictured: Tewkesbury today

The focus for many will be on the rain that has already fallen after the wet conditions brought flooding including in the Midlands. Pictured: Tewkesbury today

A graphic also showed the weather across the UK this morning, as ice warnings were issued in parts of the country

A graphic also showed the weather across the UK this morning, as ice warnings were issued in parts of the country

A graphic also showed the weather across the UK this morning, as ice warnings were issued in parts of the country

However, the focus for many will be on the rain that has already fallen after the wet conditions brought flooding including in the Midlands. 

Northamptonshire Search and Rescue were involved in the evacuations at Billing Aquadrome Holiday Park, which included a new mother and a young baby. Emergency accommodation was sourced for the residents, some of whom showed signs of hypothermia, at hotels and at least two leisure centres.

Police Chief Superintendent Mick Stamper said it was an ‘exceptionally challenging situation’ and asked residents to leave the site if they could, adding they would be exempt from Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service declared a major incident at the holiday park on Christmas Eve, with five crews and four specialist water teams searching 1,100 caravans.

The force previously responded to 250 incidents following heavy rain, deploying crews to pump out properties and stranded vehicles. 

Aerial view of flooding at Haw Bridge in Tirley, Gloucestershire this Christmas day where the river Severn has burst it's banks cutting off the people who live there

Aerial view of flooding at Haw Bridge in Tirley, Gloucestershire this Christmas day where the river Severn has burst it’s banks cutting off the people who live there

Pictured: Floodwater in Haw Bridge in Tirley, Gloucestershire on Christmas Day after flooding hit the region overnight

Pictured: Floodwater in Haw Bridge in Tirley, Gloucestershire on Christmas Day after flooding hit the region overnight

People wade through floodwater to check boats and property at Orton as the area is completed flooded as the River Nene burst its banks in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

People wade through floodwater to check boats and property at Orton as the area is completed flooded as the River Nene burst its banks in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

In Cambridgeshire, floodwater was knee-deep in Peterborough after it overwhelmed the banks of the River Nene, with Britons seen wading through murky water to check on their boats and property on Christmas Day

In Cambridgeshire, floodwater was knee-deep in Peterborough after it overwhelmed the banks of the River Nene, with Britons seen wading through murky water to check on their boats and property on Christmas Day

A man wades through floodwater to check boats and property at Orton as the area is completed flooded as the River Nene burst its banks in Peterborough

A man wades through floodwater to check boats and property at Orton as the area is completed flooded as the River Nene burst its banks in Peterborough

An amber national severe weather warning has been issued for parts of south Wales and across southern England, with gusts expected to reach up to 70mph in exposed coastal locations

An amber national severe weather warning has been issued for parts of south Wales and across southern England, with gusts expected to reach up to 70mph in exposed coastal locations

A yellow warning for wind for the whole of England and Wales as well as the far south of Scotland has also been issued and will be in force from 3pm on Boxing Day

A yellow warning for wind for the whole of England and Wales as well as the far south of Scotland has also been issued and will be in force from 3pm on Boxing Day

Eight flood warnings are in place in Norfolk, with firefighters from Dereham called to Cranworth, near Watton, to reports of a house that had been flooded by the heavy rain early on Christmas Day.

Another crew from London were called to flooding outside a home on Ditchingham Dam near Bungay at 7.45am, with further reports of a multiple-vehicle crash on Thickthorn roundabout just outside Norwich.     

A police spokesperson said the force had received higher than normal calls over the past 24 hours since Christmas Eve because of flooding. They added officers were supporting the fire service. 

The Met Office said conditions across the UK will turn increasingly unsettled through to December 27, with strong winds and heavy rain moving in from the north.

An amber national severe weather warning has been issued for parts of south Wales and across southern England, with gusts expected to reach up to 70mph in exposed coastal locations.

A yellow warning for wind for the whole of England and Wales as well as the far south of Scotland has also been issued and will be in force from 3pm on Boxing Day.


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