A TOWN was on the brink of a major flood on Monday night as thousands of gallons of water a second surged down from the surrounding hills.

Terrified residents fear the worst as the River Severn, which threads its way through medieval Shrewsbury, threatens to burst its banks.

Water levels are not due to peak until Tuesday night amid concerns the Shropshire town could be even worse hit than in 2000.

Then, the river reached its highest level in 50 years, flooding a string of towns and villages.

Locals and businesses were desperately trying to save valuables and equipment as the flood waters began to swamp scores of buildings.

The flooding fears came as Britain ­battled through its third straight week of atrocious weather.

Severe danger-to-life flood warnings were issued for Shrewsbury and nearby Ironbridge.

The Severn was expected to reach 17ft at Shrewsbury’s Welsh Bridge overnight as road closures meant surrounding villages were cut off.

The water was seen to be getting very high up the town’s English Bridge.

Resident Debbie Bradbury-Walker said: “We have an 8ft ­cellar, which is a godsend as that’s all been filled.

“But there is about three to four inches of water in the house on the ground floor.

“The drains are full but, luckily, we still have electricity at the moment.

“We have a way to escape from the house if we need. The rear is built up.”

Even the shopping centre in Shrewsbury was deserted while pubs and restaurants had closed up at lunchtime as commuters battled to get home.

West Mercia Police warned residents to avoid flood-hit areas and make only essential journeys.

Caroline Douglass, director of incident management at the Environment Agency, said: “Flooding has a long-lasting and devastating impact on people’s lives.

“River levels remain high and communities along the river Severn — in particular Shrewsbury, ­Bewdley and Ironbridge — should be ready for potential flooding.

“Groundwater levels across parts of Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Sussex are continuing to rise and will lead to more flooding impacts later in the week.

“We need to prepare for more frequent periods of extreme weather like this.

“People need to be aware of their flood risk, sign up to flood warnings, make a flood plan and not to drive or walk through flood water.”

But on Monday, large swathes of the rest of the country were hit by blizzards — with two inches of snow causing rush-hour chaos.
Thousands of pupils enjoyed an extended half-term holiday as hundreds of schools were closed.

More than 300 flood alerts, plus those two severe danger-to-life cautions, were in place.

And weather warnings for snow and ice covered large parts of the country as forecasters said there was no sign of a let-up.

Following on from Storms Ciara and Dennis, millions woke to heavy snow falls across the Midlands, northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The trans-Pennine A66 road was closed and there were long delays on other major routes as vehicles became stranded, especially on slip roads.

There was major congestion on the A1 in North Yorkshire and A19 between Sunderland and Hartlepool.

A number of roads in ­Cumbria were impassable.

The snowfalls were followed by heavy rains triggering yet more fears of flooding.

London North Eastern Railway had to cancel services between Leeds and Harrogate.

The aftermath of Storm Dennis meant ­problems with rail services across Wales continued.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service urged motorists to take care while driving in snow.

It said to use lights, leave larger gaps than normal between vehicles and avoid harsh braking, acceleration and steering.

More than 300 schools did not open in Bradford, Leeds, Co Durham, Gateshead, Northumberland and Scotland.

Rainfall was expected to continue hitting areas along the rivers ­Severn, Wye, Ouse and Trent.

England has had more than 141 per cent of its average February rainfall so far.

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