FAMILIES are being urged by cops to leave their homes immediately on Christmas Day due to a risk of flooding.
Anyone living near the River Great Ouse in North Bedfordshire has been told to find alternative accommodation.
Bedfordshire Police said the request "overrides" any Covid regulations currently in place.
Superintendent Steve Ashdown, who is leading the response, said officers had visited just over 1,300 homes in the area last night.
He said: "The river is currently at heightened levels and we're predicting a significant flooding event by 8pm this evening.
"If you received one of those notices last night, you are in one of those properties that are most at risk from this flood. We would encourage you to leave if it is safe for you to do so, as soon as you are able to do so.
"Appreciate the timing of this at Christmas Day is not great, but the risk to you and your family and wellbeing is significant."
He asked residents able to leave their homes to do so in a "Covid-safe way" if possible, recommending they go to one single location and stay there until it is safe to return in the coming days.
It comes as 81 flood warnings were issued by the Environment Agency for the whole of the UK.
Storm Bella is set to hit the UK tomorrow bringing further downpours and winds of up to 70mph in exposed coastal locations, according to the Met Office.
Severe flooding in Norfolk and Suffolk has already ruined Christmas for families who were forced to evacuate their homes with their unopened presents.
The rivers Severn and Avon rose and burst their banks, causing danger-to-life flooding across western and southern parts of the country.
Emergency services worked through the night to rescue more than 1,000 people from the flooding at Billing Aquadrome holiday park in Northamptonshire.
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had handled more than 250 flood calls, with several properties affected and multiple people rescued from stranded vehicles.
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