More heavy rain expected to hit northern England as work continues to repair flood damage

More heavy rain is expected to hit parts of northern England and Scotland this week as work continues to repair flood damage caused by record rainfall levels in the area.

Members of the armed forces help distribute sandbags to residents following flooding in Carlisle.  Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Members of the armed forces help distribute sandbags to residents following flooding in Carlisle. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

The Government has faced criticism after multi-million pound defences built following catastrophic floods in 2005 failed to keep the deluge out from people’s homes in Cumbria, the county worst affected by Storm Desmond.

In Carlisle, the Army was sent to help support emergency services as they spent a second day evacuating people from their homes in streets where cars were almost entirely submerged.

But while the rain and heavy winds, which prompted the county to declare a major incident, subsided on Sunday, the Met Office issued yellow weather warnings for the rest of the week and forecast “persistent rain”.

Following an emergency government meeting on Sunday, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said Cumbria rain gauge figures showed a record amount had fallen in the 24 hours between Friday and Saturday evenings.

It measured 341mm in Honister, which is more than a month’s worth of rainfall in just one day and more than the UK has experienced in such a short amount of time.

Ms Truss said more than 2,000 homes and businesses in the county had been flooded and promised further investments would be made to protect the area in the future.

She said: “We are delivering on our manifesto commitment to build 1,400 new flood defence schemes that will better protect 300,000 more homes. That’s an extra £2.3 billion of capital investment to help our most at-risk communities.”

A tweet from David Cameron added: “The thoughts of the country are with the people in Cumbria and the NW hit by flooding. The Govt is doing everything it can to help them.”

The Prime Minister is due to chair an emergency Cobra meeting to discuss the floods this morning.

Almost 60,000 homes in the county were left without power throughout Sunday as the floods damaged sub-stations and caused electrical faults. Electricity North West said that it had restored power to 24,000 homes by the evening.

Water supplies in a number of main towns were also affected by flood water and at least 20 schools are expected to remain closed today.

The disruption has led to the cancellation of appointments and routine services across NHS hospitals and services today. The Cumbria Partnership Foundation Partnership has said it will be running only essential services and more information is available via the website.

In London, the heavy winds caused a fatality when a 90-year-old man was believed to have been blown into the side of a moving bus by a gust of wind, near Finchley Central Tube station.

Cumbria Police also launched a search following reports of an elderly man falling into a swollen River Kent in Kendal.

An appeal by Cumbria Community Foundation to raise £1 million to support vulnerable individuals and families who have been badly affected by the floods is under way and has already raised well over £100,000.

It aims to distribute grants to those most in need to help cover costs of cleaning up, emergency repairs, clothing, food and drink, heating and heating equipment, child care equipment and basic furniture.

Electricity North West said it was continuing to work to restore power to customers.

It said in a statement: “Using generators from across the UK, engineers have restored power to 11,000 homes in Lancaster and aim to restore another 4,000 later this morning.

“Engineers are working round the clock in shifts to repair damage caused to the area’s main substation which flooded on Saturday night. The remaining 40,000 properties should be restored by re-energising the substation by Monday evening.”

The statement said that 2,685 properties in Cumbria remained without power because of 11 separate faults caused by flooding, with flood water preventing engineers from getting to the sites to carry out repairs.

Electricity North West incident manager Steve Cox said: “We’ve had engineers on boats working with the emergency services to try and access faults in Cumbria, and we’ve seen sterling efforts from teams in Lancaster to repair the damaged substation, while others connect generators to speed up restoration to customers.

“I’d like to thank customers for their understanding of the mammoth task we’re undertaking to restore supplies. We’ve also drafted in extra support for our contact centre and are working hard to provide regular updates on social media to keep everyone updated.”

Speaking from Carlisle, Superintendent Mark Pannone, of Cumbria Constabulary, said: “A lot of the county are trying to get back to normality but we still have the ongoing incident in Carlisle where we have about 2,500 properties in Carlisle flooded.

“People overnight have been staying in their houses or in reception centres and those that have been in their houses still need to be evacuated by boat this morning.

“The other issue we have got is that the road network is complicated throughout the county, inasmuch as Kendal will be in gridlock today because the bridges will have to be inspected for structural damage.”

He added that the rail network in Cumbria remained “basically at a standstill”.

Mr Pannone praised the team effort of Cumbrians and emergency services and partner agencies.

He said: “The emergency services and others have worked superbly over the weekend. When the major incident was declared at the weekend that meant we were able to access national assets including the military, and everyone worked tirelessly together to ensure that people remained safe and try to support people in having as little disruption as possible.

“People have really shown their best side throughout the county this weekend in helping each other as well as working with emergency services and other agencies. It has been a fantastic team effort.”

In comparison to previous floods in 2005 in Carlisle and in 2009 largely in West Cumbria, he said: “These floods have combined both, and worst. It has been a county-wide incident and flooding has been on an unprecedented scale, it has never been seen before.”

Cumbria County Council leader Stewart Young told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “There does need to be an investigation into the flood defences.

“I will be talking to our local MPs later today and if the Environment Agency needs to revisit them then that’s what’s going to have to happen because we can’t continue to have events like this in Cumbria, we just won’t be able to cope.”