Residents living near the River Great Ouse in north Bedfordshire are being strongly urged to leave their homes and seek alternative accommodation due to the risk of flooding.
Bringing yet further disruption to Christmas celebrations in the area, the warning comes as authorities fear potential threat to life.
People should seek alternative accommodation as soon as possible.
This guidance overrides the current Covid-19 regulations relating to mixing with people as there is deemed to be a greater threat to life posed by the flooding.
Superintendent Steve Ashdown said: “A number of serious flood warnings are now in place across the north of the county where we are expecting flooding, including some for serious flooding which has the potential to endanger life.
“We contacted 1,309 properties along the river last night and suggested they evacuate, and we would strongly reiterate this advice again based on the latest information.
“River levels are extremely high and we are expecting this to have a significant impact across Bedford Borough over the next 24 hours.”
Supt Ashdown added: “The fact this is happening on Christmas Day makes the situation even worse, especially after the disruption so many of us have had to our plans already, and I really do sympathise with people.
“But this is a really serious situation and we need people to take action in order to keep themselves safe.”
Before evacuating, please turn off gas, water and electricity supplies and move any valuables upstairs. Only take what you need – such as medication and any insurance documents.
Bedford Borough Council has set up Covid-safe emergency assistance centres at Bedford International Athletic Stadium and Bromham Village Hall for people who have to evacuate but do not have another location to go to at this time.
Please check the government website for further updates and advice.
You can also call the dedicated Bedford Borough Council emergency number on 01234 718 007.