Dozens of flood warnings have been issued for parts of northern England and Wales after Storm Christoph brought heavy rains, forcing an estimated 2,000 people to leave their homes.
Many people in areas around Greater Manchester and in North Wales have been surveying damage to properties from serious flooding.
By early afternoon on Thursday there were still five “severe flood warnings” in place — three in England and two in Wales — indicating a danger to life. More than 200 “flood warnings” called for immediate action to deal with expected flooding, while a similar number of “flood alerts” warned people to be prepared for possible flooding.
Greater Manchester Police said early on Thursday afternoon that latest information suggested “we are past the worst point of potential flooding”. But emergency services remain present in affected areas as people return to their homes.
The UK Environment Agency said the River Mersey had come “within centimetres” of bursting its banks, adding that people needed to remain vigilant for the next couple of days.
Around 2,000 homes in Greater Manchester were evacuated due to rising water levels, officials said.
Boris Johnson visited the Didsbury area and praised the protective and relief work carried out by emergency teams.
“What I’m seeing here is the amazing preparations that the Environment Agency makes, the way they’re able to use sluice gates, the way they’re able to use improvised emergency flood defences to protect homes,” the prime minister said.
The authorities said thousands of properties had been protected. “Teams are continuing to work 24/7 – operating barriers, clearing grilles, issuing warnings and supporting other emergency responders,” Environment Agency Chief Executive James Bevan said on Twitter.
Footage posted on social media by a resident of Ruthin in North Wales showed flooded streets after the River Clwyd burst its banks.
Local emergency services urged residents to leave their homes as heavy rain and even snow continued to fall through the night.
At least one insurance company is offering free counselling to flood victims in the UK, saying “tens of thousands of people face the double disaster of flooding overlaid by the pandemic”.
The Met Office predicted colder, less wet weather for England and Wales from Thursday afternoon as Storm Christoph “only slowly moves away”. However, weather warnings were still in force for parts of northern Scotland for rain, snow and ice.