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Home » News & Events » 2020 » December » Take extra caution during flood situation as more extreme rain forecast – says Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service

Take extra caution during flood situation as more extreme rain forecast – says Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service

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Following the extreme rain and resultant floods across many parts of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, more heavy rain is forecast to fall over the coming weekend, with Storm Bella predicted to reach Wales and Herefordshire on Saturday night.

People should therefore take extra caution over the next few days as further rain heads towards us.

Significant rainfall has already affected both counties, mainly across the south of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and especially around Ross-on-Wye, Ledbury and Bromyard.

This gave rise to roads becoming rivers up to 1m deep on low lying roads, preventing access to and from many locations.

Ross-on-Wye was the wettest place in UK on Wednesday 23 December, seeing more than 50mm of rainfall in 24hrs.

Yesterday and overnight Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) responded to over 50 flood related incidents including vehicles trapped in water, flooding of internal electrics, assistance to the ambulance service and attendance at a collapsed building.

This was in addition to the normal range of fire service callouts, including a significant house fire in Herefordshire attended by six fire appliances.

So, with the ground already saturated, there is a further risk of flash flooding throughout the two counties, with water running off fields on to roads, and river and lake levels likely to rise and possibly burst their banks for a first or second time.

As such if you must travel please check the forecast, weather and flood warnings and pay careful attention to road conditions, including road safety and closure signage.

Firefighters and officers from HWFRS are therefore preparing to respond to more flooding incidents across both counties, whilst remaining fully ready to respond to any Christmas-related incidents, whether cooking fires, RTCs or other problems.

Flash flooding and rising river levels can cause dangerous situations for those both in vehicles and on foot. The majority of flooding related 999 calls to HWFRS have been from motorists stuck in floodwater, often having ignored warning signs or news alerts.

“We are especially urging people not to drive or walk into flood water,” said Group Commander George Marshall, of HWFRS Community Risk department.

“Flood water can be deceptively fast moving and there may be dangers which are not visible.

“These might include, for example, lifted manholes which could expose you to the risk of falling into deep drains which you can’t escape from.

“People walking and driving into flood waters not only endanger themselves but also put at risk those who might be called upon to rescue them.”

You should never drive through more than six inches of standing water or more than four inches of moving water.

What to watch out for until the flood waters clear:

  • try not to get into flood dangers in the first place - do not take risks or ignore flood warning signs, since you could be putting yourself, your car and others in danger by doing so
  • driving through flood water can be extremely dangerous since it is impossible to see how deep the water is or whether there are hazards under the water – this could damage your car and leave you stranded
  • avoid walking along riverbanks when water is lapping over the path since you might stray into deep water and get caught up with hidden objects that you cannot see
  • if your home does begin to flood, turn off your electricity supply, and do not touch any sources of electricity such as switches or appliances when you are standing in flood water
  • help any elderly or infirm family members and neighbours
  • move people and pets upstairs or to a higher place with means of escape
  • follow the advice of emergency services if they tell you to evacuate – you will be taken to a centre run by the local council
  • stay alert to local weather and news reports and take notice of any flood warnings and road closures you come across

When the road networks across Herefordshire and Worcestershire are affected by flooding, the situation can change rapidly.

So whether you are a motorist or a public transport passenger, please check for road closures or revised bus and train timetables, by tuning in to local radio, visiting news and travel websites and checking on Worcestershire County Council’s or Herefordshire Council’s websites.

Group Commander Marshall concluded: “As always, we will be available to respond throughout the festive period to help protect the public and support the other emergency services, whatever the weather throws at us.

“But if the flood situation continues or worsens, play it safe and don’t take a chance.

From everyone at HWFRS we wish you a happy and safe Christmas.”