Monday, 30 November 2015

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More heavy rain due today in Cumbria

The Met Office is warning that more heavy rain is on the way today - but not as much as originally feared.

November flood photo
Main Street, Cockermouth. Photo: Chris Lewis

Forecasters say there is "a moderate risk of severe weather affecting much of western Britain"

The expect windy conditions with widespread rain, heavy at times, spreading from the south.

The rain will fall on ground that is already saturated.

The weather warning sparked fears that any clear-up operation in Workington, Cockermouth and Keswick today could be affected by the predicted rainfall but forecasters said the rain was not on the level previously seen.

The number of people spending the night in rescue centres dropped to 75 overnight, as hundreds of others made alternative plans to stay with friends and family.

More than 1,000 homes were still without electricity this morning. 

"Once we are in a position to access our network safely we will restore supplies to these customers as quickly as possible," said a spokesman for United Utilities.

  • Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service has issued an emergency appeal for anyone who decided to stay in their flooded property to contact them urgently if they change their minds and want to be rescued.
  • A warning has been issued regarding the safety of the structure of Greta Bridge in Keswick town centre.

The situation is currently being assessed but the bridge has been closed to the public and surrounding businesses and properties have been evacuated as a precaution.

Elsewhere it is estimated that around a thousand properties have suffered flood damage around the county.

  • Three more bridges have collapsed as a result ofthe raging floodwaters in Cumbria.

Braithwaite bridge, near Keswick, has collapsed with water being diverted by rubble across the A66.

Camerton bridge near  Workington and a small suspension bridge between Pooley Bridge and Dalemain is also down.

These collapses are in addition to other collapses yesterday.

People are still being urged by the police not to use bridges as vantage points to view the flood waters.

  • Cumbria's emergency services are calling on drivers to stop driving down Main Street in Cockermouth.

Motorists who are using the route are causing bow waves which are further damaging properties on the street.

  • The floods left 75 people sheltering in rescue centres in Cockermouth and Keswick overnight.

Cockermouth School is housing 110 evacuees and the town's Sheep and Wool Centre has 100 people. Keswick Convention Centre has 36 people and the Skiddaw Hotel and St Joseph's school in Keswick have eight and five people respectively.

  • Prime Minister Gordon Brown has offered to provide whatever help is necessary to to deal with the floods aftermath.

He has spoken to Cumbria’s chief constable, Craig Mackey, pledging the Government’s backing.

Mr Brown said: “I have assured him that any help he needs will be provided by the Government.”

  • The army is being called in to help with the rescue operation in Cockermouth.

After spending most of the night on stand-by, soldiers were sent in at first light.

They are now helping police visit houses in the town to ensure that all residents are safe.

An army spokesman said: "It is 42nd brigade of the army who are involved in co-ordinating efforts, and it's a joint service operation with the Navy and the RAF.

"The army are tasked with supporting the police in doing door to door knocks, going round all the houses and checking inside that there are not people in distress or injured or anything like that."

They are expected to remain in the town for as long as they are needed.

Emergency services are still rescuing people from flood-stricken homes in Cockermouth. They have, however, been unable to reach 10 properties in Cockermouth.

  • Flood waters in Cockermouth and Keswick are reported to be stabilising this monring.

At 4am, the rescue operation in Cockermouth - where RAF helicopters had lifted people to safety - continued to be centred on Main Street where several feet of water swamped homes and businesses.

A Cumbria police spokesman said: "There are now believed to be fewer than 10 people awaiting rescue. Between 50 and 60 people have already been rescued from their homes in the area. Approximately 960 houses were in the area worst affected by floods in the town.

"Flood levels have stabilised to an extent that four RNLI lifeboats and two fire and rescue service boats are currently being used in the Main St area assisting police officers and other agencies with the rescue operation.

"Previously floodwaters were too fast with too much debris to allow for the use of boats."

Meanwhile, in Workington, a bridge over the A597, near the town's railway station at Northside, is reported to have collapsed because of the weather.

In Carlisle, standing water is affecting the Willowholme area with bus firm Stagecoach clearing its depot there.

The rescue operation began as more than 1100 homes and businesses in Cockermouth were left without power when floodwater submerged seven substations. In addition, a submerged substation blacked out 349 customers in the Elliot Park area of Keswick. Damage to electricity poles left 14 customers in the Buttermere area without power and a further eight were off supply in Wasdale.

This morning, there were 349 customers without power in Elliot Park area, 522 in Cockermouth, 323 in Stainburn, Workington, due to a substation underwater and damage to overhead lines, 25 at Burrow Bridge, near Windermere and 27 at Tatham (South Lakes).

A United Utilities spokesman said: “Our electricity and water engineers are continuing to work across flood hit areas of Cumbria, providing support to the Environment Agency, police and local authorities.

"The flood waters have caused power loss to a number of properties, due to submerged electricity substations or damaged overhead lines. Our engineers are working hard to restore supply in these areas, where we can gain physical access. "

  • A Cockermouth hotel owner said the town was not prepared for the flood disaster it was experiencing and their flood defences can not cope.

John Carlin, owner of the Allerdale Court Hotel, said he was frightened his building will be completely flooded out yesterday afternoon.

He said it was the first time they had been hit by the extreme torrential weather.

“We are frightened,” he said. “If the water raises another foot it will be in the hotel. We can’t get any sandbags. They seem to have run out. We are trying our best to get as much flood protection as we can. We have never been affected on this scale before.

“This is totally an extreme situation. It’s unreal. The water has risen so quickly this afternoon within half an hour. The water can’t get out past the bridge because the water has burst its banks. It is going through the shops. The hotel is half full with guests, but they are all out at work, so we can’t notify them yet.

“My hotel is two doors away from disaster. I am very frightened about what will happen. The water has risen a metre in less than 20 minutes.

“We have certain flood defences, but we are extremely worried that the water will get into the hotel. The flood defences can’t cope.

Cockermouth is not prepared in the slightest for this disaster.”

Tracey Jones, who works at the hotel, said: “We are quite close to the river. The water is just creeping slowly on to Market Place.

"Main Street looks like a river. The water is up to people’s knees. People are trying to clear the stock and get it higher up in the shops so it’s not ruined. Everyone is scared because it is getting worse really fast.”

  • Workington MP Tony Cunningham said: “I have been involved in this since 9am.

About 100 properties are flooded in Keswick, another 100 are flooded in Cockermouth. In Workington the road near the police station is flooded. If it goes any higher the police station will be flooded. The cricket ground in Workington is flooded.

“I went for a run earlier and it ended up above my knees. You can’t get to Seaton from Workington.

“This is unprecedented. There has been more rainfall than when Cockermouth flooded in 2005. There was 175mm rainfall today. There is expected to be another 100mm over night. It’s going to be bad.

"The Environment Agency are sending out three boats to Cockermouth tonight to evacuate the people whose properties are worst hit. This is serious. The water is up to people’s necks in some places. Some parts are worse than the floods in the 1940s. I am doing everything I can to help.”

  • Cockermouth School was closed yesterday and headteacher Stuart Reeves said: “The Eco Centre has been set up as an emergency centre for anyone who has been evacuated from their home.

"We are ready to receive anybody that needs somewhere to stay anytime, and we are ready to take them over night.

"We shut the school because of water problems around the school and electrical problems. The school is closed today and tomorrow and will reopen on Monday.”

Keswick School was also closed and was also acting as a reception centre for evacuated residents from an old folks home in the town.

The Sheep and Wool Centre in Cockermouth is being used as a base for people who have been affected by the floods.

Emma Nicholson, from the centre, said: “We have a few people here now, but are expecting a lot more throughout the day from Cockermouth and Keswick. We are housing people, mostly the elderly, and providing hot drinks and sandwiches for them.”

Elderly town residents were evacuated from their Cockermouth homes yesterday morning.

Derwent and Solway social landlords evacuated the residents from sheltered accommodation Victoria Court, High Sands Lane, when the River Derwent was on the verge of bursting its banks at High Sands Lane and along Waterloo Street. The building has 20 flats. This morning the water was up to the bottom of the footbridge.

A spokesman for Derwent and Solway said residents were evacuated as a precautionary measure on the advice of Allerdale council.

He said: “We are in the process of moving residents to the Sheep and Wool Centre, and the Globe Hotel. The homes have not flooded at this stage, but they are at risk of flooding.”

Allerdale council has an emergency 24 hour hotline number for any enquiries relating to flooding incidents in the borough.

Anyone wanting advice or information on issues such as requests for sandbags should call 01900 871080.

  • Homes along Gote Road in Cockermouth have flooded again. About a dozen residents spent the morning moving furniture to safety as water from the River Cocker began to flood into their homes. Residents are laying sandbags and trying to minimise the damage.

The road was closed in both directions.

It comes as the Gote Road Flood Action Group, which was set up following severe floods in October 2008, is working towards permanent flood defences.

Gote Road resident Hugh Carter said: “The water is very high and it won’t be very long before it will be coming into the house.

“We got a call this morning at about 7am to move everything upstairs and we’ve just tried to put everything on boxes and tables to keep it dry.”

The Environment Agency contacted flood action chairman Sue Cashmore to alert her to the flooding threat and she informed residents.

Allerdale council was helping residents affected by the latest severe weather conditions.

It had more than 100 requests for sandbags due to flooding problems in Keswick, Cockermouth and other outlying areas.

  • Keswick Leisure Pool was closed as access to the building was cut off by water.

David Martin, Allerdale’s interim deputy chief executive, said: “Staff are working hard to clear a backlog of requests but residents are being warned it may take some time to get sandbags out to properties due to the sheer volume of enquiries. Please be assured that the council is doing all it can to help residents affected by the severe weather.

“We are also receiving calls from businesses but at this stage we must prioritise emergencies concerning residents. Businesses are advised to contact their insurers for further advice and information.

“Householders with home insurance are also urged to call their insurance company for advice on what they can do, such as check into a hotel - the cost of which may be covered by their insurance policy.”

The council has an emergency 24 hour hotline number for any enquiries relating to flooding incidents in the borough. Anyone seeking advice or information on issues such as requests for sandbags should call 01900 871080.


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