WORCESTER’S flooding crisis looks set to continue for the foreseeable future with more severe weather forecast for tomorrow (Wednesday) and the rest of the week.
Environment Agency chiefs say the River Severn could rise above levels seen during the devastating floods of July 2007, but with millions of pounds invested in flood defences in and around the city in the seven years since there are hopes more businesses and homes will be protected.
The river is not set to peak in the city until Thursday (February 13), but it could be up to 5cm higher than 2007 with another 15 to 25mm of rain set to fall today and potentially even more upstream.
Worcester Bridge is also set to close again this afternoon as the river is rising more quickly than expected.
Early estimates suggest around two dozen properties have been flooded in the area so far, but the majority are out of the city including several in Severn Stoke.
The Worcestershire Silver Tactical Co-ordinating group, made up of a number of bodies including the county and city council, The Envionment Agency and emergency services, met this morning to discuss what to do if the situation escalated.
Superintendent Mark Travis, Silver Commander said: “The contingency measures which have been put in place are working and all agencies are working together and are prepared should the situation escalate.
“We would reiterate previous messages about not driving or entering flood water.
“Decisions are not being made lightly and we are working together to have an effective response balancing keeping our cities open whilst keeping people safe.”
“Agencies are working to provide support to people who are vulnerable due to the flooding. If you have concerns about yourself due to flooding, or someone else, please make yourself known to the agencies who are out and about round the county.”
The rising river started to cause chaos in the city on Sunday (February 9) as highways bosses were forced to close a number of main routes including Worcester Bridge, Tybridge Street and North Parade.
The closures caused gridlock on surrounding routes into the city with motorists stranded for up to two hours.
However, despite a number of roads being closed, Worcester’s business owners are reminding shoppers they are still open.
Adrian Field, manager of the Worcester Business Improvement District (BID), said they were concerned about reports that Worcester was a city “under siege” and was “closed for business”.
“We have a contingency to help businesses in these types of situations and we are keen to re-iterate that the city centre’s businesses are very much open,” he said.
“There is perhaps the perception that Worcester city has been on lockdown but that is not the case.
“The businesses are very keen to maintain normality. Car parking is still available in locations set back from the banks of the river such as St. Martin’s Gate.
“However, we would encourage anyone thinking of heading into the city centre to exercise caution, plan their route and use their common sense to ensure their journey is conducted safely.
“We are encouraging businesses and retailers to promote the fact they are open on Twitter, using the hashtag #open4business.”
In other developments the University of Worcester Arena was forced to close again yesterday (Tuesday) as the river began to creep back onto Hylton Road and Crowngate car park was also shut because of the surrounding road restrictions.
To keep up-to-date with the latest flood warnings log onto www.environment-agency.gov.uk and visit www.metoffice.gov.uk for the latest weather warnings.
The county council website at www.worcestershire.gov.uk contains details of road, school and public transport closures.
Picture by Simon Churchill