More than a thousand people have been forced to flee a caravan park in a “major incident” after it was flooded on Christmas Eve.
Emergency services began moving people out of the Billing Aquadrome holiday park in Northamptonshire on Thursday afternoon after the county was hit by heavy rain.
Some people who have been evacuated have gone to stay with their families, while Northamptonshire Police said two leisure centres in Northamptonshire and “a number” of hotel rooms had been secured for emergency accommodation.
Northamptonshire Search and Rescue, a charity which was aiding Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, said it had rescued several people, including three adults in a car that was partially submerged in a ditch and a new mother with her young baby.
A statement from Billing Aquadrome urged people to leave their homes and return to their residential addresses “immediately” after water levels continued to rise.
“Park staff are doing everything that they can to aid and assist all holiday home owners during this unbelievably difficult time,” it said. “It goes without saying that we are heartbroken to find ourselves in this position, and that we are extremely sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused. We thank you for your understanding and continued support.”
Residents said that an area in the park, known as Canada Drive and is nearest to the River Nene, was flooded.
One told Sky News: “A small portion of the park is heavily flooded, to approximately knee height.
“It came up to the bottom of the door on my car. My neighbours next door are elderly and the husband was struggling to get his wife out and all her medication.”
He added: “Personally I just feel numb from it and worried about if my place will be there when I get back. I won’t be able to enjoy any sort of Christmas with that on my mind now.”
1/2 PLS RT: Major incident declared at flooded #BillingAquadrome. Currently searching 1,100 caravans with 5 crews & 4 specialist water teams deployed to park which was 5ft underwater in places today. Incident commander Phil Pells said teams were searching all units on site…
— Northants Fire (@northantsfire) December 24, 2020
Chief Superintendent Mick Stamper said it was an “exceptionally challenging situation”.
“Residents are being urged to leave the site immediately and seek accommodation with family or friends where possible,” he said.
“Anyone worried that this may be put them in breach of COVID-19 regulations should be assured that these are exceptional circumstances and they will be exempt,” he added.
“We would, however, urge people not to go to homes where people are shielding or self-isolating as a result of COVID-19.”
The holiday park, which consists of mobile homes and lodges, is set in 235 acres in the Nene Valley and is open 11 months of the year from 6 February to the 6 January.