RIVERS burst their banks and residents had to be evacuated in the wake of Storm Ciara.

Bolton was battered with gusts of 80mph winds and heavy rainfall.

Storm Ciara swept in early on Sunday morning and in just a few short hours, roads across the borough were impassable.

The Environment Agency issued a number of urgent warnings throughout the days. Residents in Lostock were told to prepare for flooding from Bessy Brook, Kearsley was braced for flooding from the River Irwell at the Prestolee and Ringley bridges, and Radcliffe and Redvales were warned about flooding from the Irwell too.

Havoc ensued on the roads and train lines — train companies told people not to travel at all costs, and by 11am, police in Bolton said they had already received several reports about vehicles aquaplaning.

Bradshaw was particularly affected in Bolton and roads in the Bradshaw Meadows area were overrun with flooding.

Just before midday, when the storm was expected be at its worst, residents in Stoneclough started getting worried that the river banks might burst.

At around 11.30am, resident Anne Nugent said: “It’s been slowly rising and we have had flood warnings. We were victims of flooding years ago so are a nervous community.

“We have seen it rise but it was already high when we woke up.”

Shortly after, the River Irwell burst its banks and a major evacuation operations began.

Residents were first evacuated in Radcliffe, Redvales and nearby Ramsbottom, with council buses carrying people to the designated relief centre at Castle Leisure Centre.

In neighbouring Stoneclough, residents of Prestolee and Ringley fleeing the floodwater were invited to the Stoneclough Community Centre, though some chose to stay in their homes.

As the situation worsened, a Bolton Council spokesman said: “We are working closely with our partners and we are actively monitoring the water levels in areas where there are flood alerts. Our teams are working with Environment Agency North West — our officers are out in the Stoneclough area offering advice and help.

“We have teams out across the borough clearing drains on our roads and we will continue to closely monitor the situation and provide support as needed.”

Rain continued until early afternoon, when bright skies broke through. Water levels in Radcliffe and other areas being evacuated receded, but residents were still being evacuated from their flooded homes into the early evening on Sunday.

Met Office forecasts for this week have predicted ice and snow in the Greater Manchester region, issuing yellow weather warnings for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Flooding risks are said to be very low for the rest of the week.