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Sky News - 20 November 2009
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Earth > Weather > Heavy / Torrential rain >
braces for more rain
Met Office predicting up to 50mm
and warns of waters rising again
as county reels from evacuations
Saturday 21 November 2009
David Batty and agencies
Flood-damaged parts of the UK are bracing themselves for more
heavy rain today after two days of downpours that inundated homes, swept away
bridges, sparked evacuations and claimed the life of a policeman.
PC Bill Barker. Photograph: Cumbria constabulary/PA
Gordon Brown has pledged an extra £1m to help flood-hit communities in Cumbria,
which yesterday suffered the worst downpour in British history, with 314mm –
more than a foot of rain – falling in 24 hours.
Brown announced the funding on a visit to the flood-stricken county where PC
Bill Barker died after a bridge collapsed.
More than 1,300 households across Cumbria have been affected, with hundreds of
people displaced and more than 1,000 homes left without power. About 100 people
remain in emergency shelters.
A thorough search of houses affected by the flooding began this morning, as the
emergency services advised people not to return to their homes yet and
forecasters predicted fresh downpours.
The Met Office has predicted another 15mm (0.5in) to 40mm (1.6in) of rain in
Cumbria today. Four bridges collapsed in the county and 11 remain closed due to
There are four severe flood warnings in force in Cumbria and 19 flood warnings
across Scotland, northern England, the Midlands and Wales. There are flood
watches in another 50 areas.
Both rivers that run through Cockermouth – the town worst affected by the
flooding – burst their banks, blocking roads and forcing more than 200 people
from their homes.
A police spokesman said: "Nobody has been reported missing in the area at this
time and the rescue effort is being scaled down.
"Fewer than 100 people remain in reception centres, with the rest having made
alternative arrangements to stay with family and friends."
Ian Rideout, a Red Cross worker, said many of those rescued were suffering from
shock. "The centre of Cockermouth looks like it has been completely destroyed.
I've never seen anything like it. The water has caused so much damage that many
of the homes here are completely ruined.
"We've been working non-stop and between the Red Cross and RNLI we've rescued
around 200 people from their homes.
"Last night I went up in one of the helicopters to get an idea of the full scale
of the disaster and where we should focus rescue efforts. Almost straight away
we found four people on the roof of their home who needed to be winched to
"Most of the people we've rescued have been in shock. One minute it's raining
heavily, then the next their home is filling with water and they're being
evacuated by the Red Cross."
People in the town said they were worried that rain forecast for the weekend
would bring more problems. Alan Smith said: "The thing with the river Cocker is
it can fall as quickly as it can rise.
"It's come down four foot from last night but the fells are sodden and if we get
any more rain it will just come straight off and into the river and the level
will rise again.
"If we have persistent rain like last night and the day before, we will be back
to square one."
Julian Mayes, a forecaster with MeteoGroup UK, said: "What happened was at least
a one in 500 years event. It was a historic day which broke all records."
Further showers were likely to give river levels a "temporary upward blip" and
flood plain areas would remain flooded, he said.
The Workington MP, Tony Cunningham, said the flood was "of biblical proportions"
and he was astonished by the destruction of the Northside bridge, which led to
PC Barker's death.
Cunningham, whose constituency covers Cockermouth, said: "If the floods in
Carlisle are anything to go by then people were out of their homes for 10, 11,
even 12 months.
"There are many broken buildings in Cockermouth but the people are not broken."
At a meeting at Penrith police station in Cumbria, Brown said the government
would match the £1m in aid already given by the North West Development Agency.
"We will do everything we can to support the local community in its hour of
Brown has paid tribute to Barker, calling the policeman "a very brave and heroic
Barker, who would have been celebrating his 45th birthday today, was killed as
he directed motorists away from the bridge. It collapsed and he was swept away.
His body was found on a beach in nearby Allonby.
The officer, from Egremont, served with Cumbria police for 25 years and leaves a
wife, Hazel, and four children.
His wife said her husband was her "forever friend" and "an amazing dad", adding:
"I have the comfort of knowing that Bill died doing the job he loved, and the
fact that he was helping others is just typical Bill."
Cumbria police Chief Constable Craig Mackey said Barker was "a wonderful police
officer and a real family man".
"Bill is a hero who died saving the lives of others and our thoughts are with
his family at this devastating time. He was a much loved friend, colleague and
an inspiration to everyone he knew – he will be sadly missed."
Flood-hit Cumbria braces
for more rain,
Two months of rain in just one day
· Met Office:
deluge in south is worst in living memory
· Battered north braced for more
as front advances
Saturday July 21, 2007
and Riazat Butt
Some of the heaviest rainfall in living memory deluged southern Britain
yesterday, inundating places with up to one sixth of their entire annual
rainfall in less than 24 hours.
Downpours knocked out satellite communications, cut power, forced schools and
homes to be evacuated, and badly disrupted roads and railways.
Emergency services were severely stretched, while one wedding party was last
night preparing to bed down in a church after they were surrounded by rapidly
London saw its luck run out after having avoided the worst of the recent
downpours, while north-east England, parts of which are still suffering from
June's monsoon conditions, braced itself for more damage as the rain moved
The wettest part of the UK was Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, which received
121.2mm of rain from midnight Thursday until 5pm yesterday - three times its
average rainfall for July and a sixth of what it would expect for the whole
Steve Randall, a forecaster for the Met Office, said: "I've never seen anything
like it, and I've been in the Met Office for 34 years. It's an extraordinary
amount, more like you would expect in a tropical rainforest."
At Barry in south Wales, residents were trapped in their homes as sewage poured
into the street. Firefighters used a boat to rescue three people from knee-high
water in one building; a man was briefly trapped in his car in a dip below a
road bridge. In Sussex, flooding in the Haywards Heath area led to serious train
delays, while in Worthing the hospital was flooded to a depth of 18 inches.
The Thames Valley was also hard hit, with Reading and Maidenhead town centres
flooded; there were long delays on the M4 after a landslip caused by heavy rain
left just one lane open on the eastbound carriageway.
Parts of south-west London saw floods two-feet-deep, and the Underground was
At Heathrow, 141 flights were cancelled as air traffic controllers grounded
aircraft in the worst of the downpours.
A severe weather warning will remain in force today for north Wales and the west
Midlands, but the rain is expected to ease off overnight. Summer has no plans to
return, however. Sunday is forecast to be showery and dull in most areas, and
heavy rain may return to the south on Monday.
The only bright spot was that the worst of the rain kept away from the battered
north, where a huge recovery operation is installing thousands of temporary
homes for people whose houses have already been wrecked. Only a short-lived
outrider of today's storms reached the devastated areas of Yorkshire and
Humberside, penetrating as far as Richmond, North Yorkshire, where the sudden
volume of water burst the banks of Skeeby beck, flooding homes in six villages.
In Cheltenham, one couple's plans for the perfect wedding went down the drain as
they and 100 guests were marooned in their church by floodwaters 5ft deep.
As Sarah Parfitt, 34, married Andy Holtom, 31, at Holy Trinity, torrential rain
caused a stream next to the church to swell and burst its banks, sending filthy
brown water churning towards the church building. They were confronted by
floodwater on stepping out for photographs, and, after calling the fire service,
were told to stay put. The new Mrs Holtom said: "When I imagined my wedding day
as a little girl, I always thought it would be sunny and totally perfect - I had
no idea it would end up like this."
Two months of rain in
just one day,
Rain, rain and yet more rain hits UK
Friday July 20, 2007
and Mark Oliver
More heavy rain swept across Britain from the Atlantic today,
triggering flash floods to add to more than £1.5bn worth of damage caused by
storms in the past three weeks.
A blanket severe weather warning was issued by the Meteorological
Office for the whole of Wales, the Midlands and East Anglia and everywhere in
southern England except Cornwall.
Forecasters said the downpours could dump up to 10cm (4in) of rain in less than
24 hours in some areas, with central and southern England and Wales the worst
Five people trapped on the first floor of a building in Barry, south Wales, were
rescued by firefighters amid a busy day for the emergency services.
Brief heavy showers passed in successive belts as council flood controls and
insurance call centres doubled staff for the weekend.
Berkshire was among the worst hit areas. In Hampshire, where scores of roads
were closed, the Fire and Rescue Service said it had received more than 200
There were appeals for the public not to call emergency numbers unless life was
in danger or there was a risk of serious damage to property.
Electrical cables were brought down in Basingstoke and a BMW car left stranded
in 60cm (2ft) of floodwater that hit large parts of the town.
The only piece of good news was that the worst of the rain kept away from the
battered north, where a huge recovery operation is installing thousands of
temporary homes for people whose houses have been wrecked.
More than 1,000 caravans have been installed in Hull and a complete new caravan
park is being built at Toll Bar, near Doncaster in South Yorkshire, where 80% of
properties were badly damaged in June.
Plans to use a cruise ship as a floating shelter have been drawn up in Hull, in
case evacuees currently staying with friends and family need a home later in the
year. Many damaged houses will take eight months to dry out and redecorate.
Only a short-lived outrider of today's storms reached the devastated area,
penetrating as far as Richmond in North Yorkshire, where the sudden volume of
water burst the banks of Skeeby beck, flooding homes in six villages.
Phil Rothwell, head of flood risk policy at the Environment Agency, said:
"Everyone should stay fully aware of the weather situation over the weekend.
Where there is the danger of rivers rising people should check for flood
warnings in their area."
The Highways Agency warned drivers to use headlights and double the distance
between cars because of the level of rain and spray.
Severe weather warnings will remain in force tomorrow for north Wales and the
West Midlands. Sunday is forecast to be showery and dull in most areas, and
heavy rain may return to the south on Monday.
The Conservative leader, David Cameron, was visiting Lincoln this afternoon to
meet victims and rescue workers, including salvage teams who were shifting
mounds of ruined furniture and belongings to landfill sites.
In one of the worst-hit areas, Doncaster, a couple said their flooded home in
Adwick le Street had been burgled twice since waist-high water filled it a
Simon Young, 35, the director of a multimedia firm, said he and his wife,
Cheryl, 28, had nothing left. "They've taken the kiddies' money box, Cheryl's
grandmother's jewellery, the newborn's clothes, even nappies. I think we need to
put a sign up outside - 'burgled twice, please don't bother'."
Rail travel has also been disrupted throughout Wales, south-west England and
southern England, and some firms have been forced to provide bus replacement
The Virgin Cross Country service had to suspend its services between Birmingham
New Street and Gloucester because of the flooding. Other train firms affected
were Arriva Trains Wales, Chiltern Railways, First Capital Connect, First Great
Western, South West Trains, Southeastern and Southern.
Parts of the London underground system have been also been affected and at one
stage 15 stations were closed. Transport for London's website was updating
details of which services were disrupted.
Police in London warned motorists to avoid the Wandsworth area, especially where
there are roads that pass under bridges.
Rain, rain and yet more
rain hits UK,
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