by Richard Davies, floodlist
Storms and heavy rain impacted areas of northern Europe in the first days of January 2024 with significant flooding reported in England, the UK, and Northern France.
Storm Henk brought heavy rainfall of more than 40 mm in 24 hours to wide areas of England and Wales during the first days of January 2024. By 04 January, 273 flood warnings and 294 flood alerts were in place across England.
Hundreds of people were evacuated from a caravan park in Great Billing, Northampton, following the rise of the Nene river. Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) said crews carried out a systematic search of 1,750 homes in the park. Levels of the river at the measuring gauge at Nene Valley jumped to 1.63 metres on 03 January, 2024, just 1 cm below the record high seen on 24 December 2020.
At the same time the Severn river rose to dangerously high levels for the fourth time this winter. Areas of the city of Worcester were flooded and some homes evacuated. The Severn River at Barbourne in Worcester reached 5.54 metres on 03 January. Property flooding is expected at 4.70 metres. The record high here is 5.79 metres, recorded on 26 February 2020.
Flood waters from the Severn and Avon rivers surrounded the town of Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire. Gloucester City Council advised residents of Alney Island to evacuate on 04 January 2023.
The rising Thames river flooded areas of Surrey and Berkshire on 08 January. Evacuations were carried out in Wraysbury in Berkshire and Addlestone and Chertsey in Surrey. The River Thames downstream at Chertsey Lock measured 4.49 metres on 09 January. Property flooding is possible above 4.34 metres. The record level here is 4.59 metres recorded on 11 February 2014
As of 09 January the Environment Agency reported 2,200 properties damaged by floods across England. More than 102,000 properties were protected during Storm Henk and the ensuing floods, the Agency said.
Wide areas of the Pas-de-Calais department in the north of France were flooded in early January 2024. Many of the areas impacted saw severe flooding in the first 2 weeks of November 2023 when almost 1,500 people were evacuated and firefighters carried out over 2,300 interventions. Over 280 municipalities were recognized as under a state of natural disaster.
Rivers including the Aa, Lys, Hem and Canche were again placed on alert following heavy rain in late December 2023. The Lys River at Merville reached a record 3.03 metres on 05 January. Likewise the Lys River at Delettes, jumped to a record 2.13 metres. The Aa River at Elnes, reached 2.51 metres on 03 January. The Aa at Elnes had previously reached a record high of 2.59 metres during the flooding in November 2023.
The government of Pas-de-Calais department said around 189 municipalities were affected by the January flooding. As of late January, 153 of those municipalities were recognized as under a state of natural disaster.
Around 700 firefighters working alongside police assisted with flood rescues, recovery and protection. As of 04 January, they had carried out almost 600 interventions. A firefighter was injured during an intervention in Aire-sur-la-Lys.
Flooding damaged 2,084 homes across the department, with over 750 people evacuated from affected areas including Thérouanne, Delettes, Quernes, Lumbres, Auchy-lès-Hesdin, Aire-sur-la-Lys, Arques and Blendecques.
The department announced a series of emergency works on rivers and watercourses in mid-January, including repairing banks and dykes and clearing river beds. As of early February, 179 operations had been completed, 37 were in progress and 218 were scheduled.
Further flood warnings were issued in the department after heavy rain in early February 2024.