Storm Babet is wreaking havoc across the UK, having claimed at least four lives and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. The persistent downpour and fierce winds have led to severe flooding and unprecedented river surges, causing chaos in various parts of the country. More than 150 flood warnings and approximately 140 flood alerts have been issued, keeping residents on high alert.
Anticipating further challenges, people in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire have been cautioned to brace for additional flooding in the coming days.
The adverse weather conditions have impacted transport across the country, leading to significant disruptions in rail and ferry services, causing widespread chaos in Yorkshire, East Anglia, the East Midlands, and Scotland.
King’s Cross station in London was closed on Saturday due to overcrowding, with stranded passengers attempting to head north, resulting in chaos within the terminal. The closure of King’s Cross station was deemed necessary by the police, as the station had become too congested to ensure passenger safety. LNER (London North Eastern Railway) advised customers against traveling north of Edinburgh, with services to Aberdeen or Inverness temporarily suspended.
Speed restrictions in Scotland remain in place on the still operating lines. LNER services beyond Edinburgh have been suspended, with road closures impeding the availability of rail replacement services. Reports revealed the severity of the flooding, as water levels in the North Esk river in Angus surged to 4.4 meters above normal, rendering gauges unreliable.
In an alarming update, Angus council has warned that parts of Angus, including the town of Brechin, are only accessible by boat. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has cautioned that the disruption across Scotland might persist given the still high river levels. The situation in Derbyshire is equally alarming, with the River Derwent reaching unprecedented heights.
Around 500 homes in a Nottinghamshire town have been evacuated due to the flooding, prompting the county council to declare a major incident. The River Idle in Retford has surged to record levels, raising concerns for the safety and security of the residents. Nottinghamshire County Council has established a temporary shelter at Retford Leisure Centre to aid residents grappling with the “unprecedented” circumstances.
As the nation grapples with the aftermath of Storm Babet, the Environment Agency has cautioned that, even though the storm has mostly passed, the flooding along major rivers, including the Severn, Ouse, and Trent, might persist for several days due to the heavy rainfall. The agency has deployed teams to provide on-ground support and has urged the public to exercise caution, emphasizing the danger of driving through floodwaters.
“Flood gates have also been closed in affected areas. We also advise people to stay away from swollen rivers and urge people not to drive through flood water as just 30cm of flowing water is enough to move your car”, stated Katharine Smith, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency.
However, in the latest update, Met Office spokesman, Dave Britton, said “there is this pulse of rain moving its way north overnight later on Monday and into Tuesday, but the rest of the week does look like it remains rather unsettled with spells of rain at times”.