Press release

Severe flood warnings issued: people urged to take immediate action

Communities in Lancashire and North and West Yorkshire are being warned of severe flooding on Boxing Day

Environment Agency staff member clearing flood defences

This news item is not being updated. Read Winter flooding 2015: community support for current information.

Following further heavy rainfall overnight the Environment Agency has issued 12 severe flood warnings - which indicate a danger to life - for Whalley, Ribchester and St Michael’s on Wyre in Lancashire and Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Todmorden and Walsden in Yorkshire. Residents are being warned to take immediate action and prepare for property flooding.

The Environment Agency is also warning communities across the north of England to check their flood risk, prepare for flooding and be cautious if travelling. Heavy rain will continue during the rest of Boxing Day (26 December) and will fall on areas where rivers are high and rising and the ground is already saturated, causing further flooding of local communities.

On Saturday 26 December as at 11:30 there are 12 severe flood warnings which mean a danger to life, 176 warnings and 89 flood alerts in place across England. There is a high risk of flooding for communities in Lancashire and North and West Yorkshire and across the north of England including in Cumbria, and Greater Manchester. There is also the potential for some flooding along parts of the River Severn in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Worcestershire over the weekend and into Monday.

In Yorkshire, the Environment Agency is advising people to prepare for flooding on Boxing Day and Sunday 27 December as heavy rain is forecast in Calderdale, Airedale (from Skipton to Leeds) and North Yorkshire including York, Pateley Bridge and Catterick.

Environment Agency teams have worked all week and through Christmas Day helping support communities at risk and preparing for last night’s heavy rainfall. In Lancashire temporary defences are set up in St Michael’s and Ribchester to reduce the risk of flooding. The Environment Agency also worked with the Army to deploy temporary flood defences and sandbags to communities at Warwick Bridge, Braithwaite and Appleby in Cumbria.

As well as working closely with emergency services, teams from the Environment Agency continue to work 24/7 by checking and maintaining flood defences, clearing blockages in watercourses and monitoring water levels.

Alison Baptiste, Flood Duty Manager at the Environment Agency, said:

“Our thoughts are with all those who’ve been coping with serious flooding to their homes and businesses repeatedly over Christmas and those who face the risk of further flooding.

On Boxing Day we have issued several severe flood warnings meaning a risk to life, we urge people to check their flood risk, prepare for flooding, follow advice from emergency services and never to risk driving through flood water.

Environment Agency staff have been working around the clock throughout Christmas with our emergency response partners and the help of the military in Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire to help reduce the potential impacts of flooding and support those communities affected.”

The Met Office confirmed on Christmas Eve that this will be the the wettest December on record for Cumbria since records began in 1910. Since 1 December many areas in Cumbria have experienced more than two and a half times their expected monthly rainfall.

Published 26 December 2015