Storm Franklin: hundreds evacuated and travel halted across UK


Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes as the approach of Storm Franklin overnight caused heavy rain and flooding.

There was severe flooding in parts of Northern Ireland, and more than 150 flood warnings are in place across the north of England, with Yorkshire and Manchester the worst-hit. The Environment Agency said people in more than 400 homes in south Manchester were told to evacuate after two severe flood warnings indicated a danger to life.

Train operators urged people on Monday to avoid travel if possible as services in some parts of the country experience severe disruption and are expected to be halted by gale-force winds and heavy rain.

It came as stretches of two motorways were closed after incidents during the storm. National Highways said the M60 in Greater Manchester was closed between junctions 10 and 11 due to an overturned HGV which had come to rest on the central reservation. The M6 was closed in Lancashire between junction 27 and 28 after an HGV hit a bridge and caught fire. A spokesperson for Lancashire fire and rescue service said: “By 7am, the fire had been extinguished using four breathing apparatus and three hose reels and the M6 southbound had reopened.”

It comes only days after Storm Eunice killed at least four people and left 1.4m homes without power, with about 56,000 yet to be reconnected.

On Sunday evening, the Met Office issued an amber warning for wind which could cause a “risk to life” for Northern Ireland until 7am, and a milder yellow wind warning covering England, Wales and south-west Scotland from midday until 1pm.

Environment agencies have issued hundreds of alerts for flooding across the country, including two rare “severe” warnings where rainfall could also pose a danger to life for communities along the River Mersey in Didsbury and Northenden, Greater Manchester.

In Northern Ireland, heavy rain caused severe flooding, with Londonderry and Tyrone the worst-hit. There were efforts to prevent the Drumragh and Finn rivers from bursting their banks, with workers using pumps to try to contain the water.

In Sprotbrough, South Yorkshire, the River Don burst its banks on Sunday evening with the area’s footpaths submerged, and police have warned people to stay away from dangerous fast-flowing water. North Yorkshire fire service was called in to help evacuate several Knaresborough residents as waters rose.

In Shropshire, the River Severn was threatening to burst its banks and emergency teams have erected flood barriers in Ironbridge to try to prevent the waters from reaching homes.

On Monday, Northern Rail issued a “do not travel” alert to passengers, while TransPennine Express is strongly urging customers to avoid travel if possible, particularly those planning to travel north of Preston in Lancashire before 10am. Great Western Railway urged customers to travel only if absolutely necessary as services are expected to be “significantly disrupted across the network”.

South Western Railway also urged customers not to travel, warning the weather conditions were “likely to hamper efforts to help stranded customers”. National Rail warned anyone making essential journeys once services resume to expect major disruption to routes across most of the country including cancellations, delays and slower speeds onboard.

Met Office meteorologist Becky Mitchell said last week marked the first time three major storms: Dudley, Eunice and Franklin, have been recorded within seven days since the naming system began in 2015.

High winds could cause further power cuts, transport delays and damage to properties, the Met Office warned. Gusts of 60 to 70mph were predicted to hit inland Northern Ireland in the early hours of Monday morning, while 80mph speeds were expected on the coast. Gales of up to 60mph were expected to sweep the rest of the region.

The Environment Agency has issued 183 warnings where “flooding is likely” for locations mainly in the north and west of England, and 172 alerts where “flooding is possible” for the north-western half of the UK, London and the south coast.

Eighteen flood warnings and seven alerts have been issued across the Scottish Borders, Ayrshire, Orkney and the Western Isles by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency Natural Resources Wales has issued 26 flood warnings and 47 alerts covering much of the country.

Source: The Guardian