Greater Manchester Police have declared a major incident as the impact of Storm Christoph is beginning to be felt across the region.
Residents have been told they can leave their homes if they need to evacuate amid the risk of flooding, despite the lockdown rules in place, but should "remain very aware" of coronavirus by following government guidance.
People are being told to only travel if absolutely necessary and take great care on the roads, while those in high-risk flooding areas should remain vigilant and prepare as much as possible. Anyone in danger due to flooding should call 999.
An amber weather warning, meaning 'danger to life', is in place across Greater Manchester until 12pm on Thursday (21 January), with heavy rainfall expected over the next 48 hours.
People can check their flood risk and get more advice on what to do in a flood here: https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/warnings
'Evacuating to protect yourself from flooding is the priority'
In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey, Chair of the GM Strategic Coordination Group for Storm Christoph, said: "In order to ensure that we're as prepared as possible for the heavy rainfall expected from Storm Christoph, we have declared a major incident.
"The safety of the public is our number one priority and we're continuing to work alongside partner agencies across the region.
"Whilst we appreciate that everyone has been told to stay home due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we want to make it clear that should members of the public need to evacuate to protect themselves due to flooding then that is the priority and you should follow your local authority's advice regarding evacuation.
"Coronavirus remains a threat to everyone's health and people should not leave their homes unless it is absolutely essential, but where there is a risk of flooding, that is clearly essential and we're working with our partners to ensure that people can do this as safely as possible. For anyone that needs to evacuate, we'd ask that you remain very aware of Covid-19 and continue to follow the government guidance around Hands, Face, Space as much as possible and limit your contact with other people.
"We would continue to urge anyone with concerns about flooding in their area to contact their local authorities who will be able to sign-post you to the most appropriate information and support.
"Partner agencies are working hard on local plans to ensure that people living in potentially vulnerable areas are notified at the earliest opportunity.
"Heavy rainfall is expected from later today and that could cause flooding in several areas across Greater Manchester - we are preparing for this and are continuing to monitor the situation very closely. We will continue to provide updates as often as we can."
What to expect from Storm Christoph
The Environment Agency say they expect river levels to remain high and to peak in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
A flood alert has been issued for the River Mersey Uplands catchment including Hyde, Ashton-under-Lyne, Denton, Stalybridge and Glossop for a prolonged period of heavy rain up to Wednesday 20 January, which will cause river levels to rise at the Woolley Bridge Gates river gauge and consequently flooding of property or roads and farmland is possible.
In Tameside, the Tame Valley, including parts of Mossley, Stalybridge and Ashton, is thought to be at particular risk – with the River Tame at risk of overflowing and large surface water run off expected, which could cause significant damage to property.
Amid the anticipated deluge, the Met Office says some homes and businesses are likely to be flooded, causing damage to some buildings and structures.
Fast flowing or deep floodwater is likely, causing danger to life.
Delays and some cancellations to train and bus services are likely.
Spray and flooding will probably lead to difficult driving conditions and some road closures.
There is also a good chance that some communities will be cut off by flooded roads.
Power cuts and loss of other services is also likely for some homes and businesses.
Residents in areas prone to flooding should take food, water, pets, furniture and vulnerable and sentimental items upstairs, as well as moving cars to higher ground.
Council teams have been out and about clearing gullies, drains and culverts to help prevent flooding and protect roads.
Be prepared for heavy rainfall & possible risks of flooding this week. We've been out clearing gullies/drains & culverts to help prevent flooding. If you live in a high risk area, make sure you're prepared: https://t.co/iMMBJo2yUU pic.twitter.com/kaPzZB6WmU— Tameside Council (@TamesideCouncil) January 19, 2021
For Tameside residents, more advice about flooding can be found at tameside.gov.uk/floodresilience.
For people living in Oldham, visit https://www.oldham.gov.uk/info/201043/flooding for more info.