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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Storms bring flood chaos to Cumbria

Torrential rain brought havoc to Carlisle as Cumbria buckled under the worst of the overnight downpours.

Up to four inches (10cm) of rain hit parts of the county leaving cars underwater, roads closed and homes flooded.

There are no trains today between Carlisle and Glasgow or Edinburgh or between Maryport at Carlisle.

In Carlisle, the Denton Holme and Cummersdale areas bore the brunt of the deluge with residents in Bousteads Grassing struggling to protect their homes with sandbags.

Police also cordoned off the Bay at Holme Head – the site of major defences installed after the floods of 2005.

Staff at the Stead McAlpin factory worked through the night to ensure millions of pounds worth of high-end fabric was stashed away safely as flood water seeped through the drains before the River Caldew eventually burst its banks at around 3.30am.

Factory manager Mark Bradley said staff went into the factory at around 11pm last night after they were alerted by the Environment Agency that river levels were rising.

“We worked hard to move the fabric to a safe area on higher ground. Parts of the factory were under 18 inches of water,” he said.

East Dale Street was closed as was the footbridge across the River Caldew at Holme Head.

In the Devonshire Walk car park one car was totally submerged. It is understood to have been owned by a competitor taking part in a 1,000-strong run across Hadrian’s Wall.

A spokesman for Cumbria police said that Denton Holme was one of the worst hit areas of the county.

He said: “At one point it was feared that water was seeping through the defences but fortunately they held. Residents were out during the night sandbagging their homes. The water reached the top of the arches of the bridge next to Maltings in Caldewgate and in the nearby car park one vehicles was submerged.”

The severe weather also led to the cancellation of several high profile weekend events across the country. Maryport Harbour Festival, Wigton Carnival, outdoor events at Cockermouth Live! and Hutton-in-the-Forest Horse Trials near Penrith were all postponed.

Overnight the Environment Agency upgraded flood alerts across the county to flood warnings meaning that floods were expected with immediate action required by householders.

Matt Dobson, senior forecaster at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said Borrowdale in Cumbria bore the brunt of the bad weather, with an estimated 100mm of rain.

“It has been exceptionally wet overnight across Cumbria,” he said. “By the end of the night, it is fair to say that probably 70mm-100mm fell over 24 hours which is a month’s worth of rain. It looks like the worst is probably now over for Cumbria.

“There will still be some showers today and overnight but it is not going to be anywhere near as bad as it has been.”

During the night Environment Agency warnings focused on the River Caldew in Carlisle at the Viaduct, Denton Holme and Bitts Park.

There were also warnings on the river Ehen in the Egremont area, the Greta in Keswick and the Cocker and Derwent in Cockermouth.

In Keswick, Elliott Park, Fitz Park, Riverside flats and the campsite were all classed as high risk while in Cockermouth the cricket ground and Trout Hotel car park were affected.

Householders in Threlkeld put out sandbags and it is understood that around five homes were flooded in the village with residents working through the night trying to direct water away from properties.

Flooding at Threlkeld Cricket Club. Article continues below...


Also in the Keswick area, the A66 was closed between Cockermouth and Keswick as Bassenthwate Lake flooded the road.

On the other side of the lake on the A592 near the Calvert Trust three vehicles were underwater as floods breached the road. It is understood there were no casualties.

Other roads affected were Whinlatter Pass between Braithwaite and Lorton, the route through Uldale, the B5299 in Sebergham, Arkleby Road, Aspatria, the A595 in Muncaster near the Fell Lane junction.

Redirected River Caldew, Carlisle. Video by Rod Phillips. Article continues below...


Organisers of Maryport Harbour Festival, the Solway Trust, said the postponement was a last-minute decision.

A spokesman said it was the hardest decision they had had to make, but they had no choice because of the weather forecast was just as bad as today.

The town’s annual trawler race was set to be the festival’s centrepiece tomorrow. The Solway Trust said the festival had only been postponed and a new date would be released as soon as possible.

Wigton Carnival has been postponed until next Saturday amid fears over child safety.  Barton Laws, where the funfair was due to be held, is completely flooded and is still waterlogged though water levels have fallen.

Jimmy Slater, of the town’s Slater’s funfair, said: “You have never seen anything like it.

“The water has dropped by about a foot but its still bad.”

Carnival spokesman Paul Radcliffe added: “There was no choice due to the adverse weather conditions.

“There is no way we can have anything in here – it’s too dangerous.

“There would be young children on the floats. It’s slippy and we have to put the safety of the children first.

“The committee have worked really hard all the year round and they are as frustrated and disappointed as everyone else. This is an extreme safety measure and it has never happened before.”

The carnival is now due to start at 1pm on Saturday 30. The outdoor performances at today’s June 23 Cockermouth Live! have also proved to be a washout, with organisers forced to cancel two stages.

Wagons were unable get on to the field of the Memorial Gardens to erect the Main Stage and the Band Blast Stage.

However, performances will go ahead as planned at indoor venues at the Kirkgate Centre, town hall, Jennings Brewery, United Reformed Church and Wordsworth House.

Suzanne Elsworth, publicity officer for the festival, said: “Unfortunately we can’t use the stages but the good news is that every other venue is indoors. 

"Obviously we are disappointed that we cannot use the Memorial Gardens but that doesn’t mean that the event is cancelled.”

Hutton in the Forest Horse Trials had attracted a record 635 entries this weekend.

But it too had to be cancelled after 10cm of rain fell in 24 hours. 

Show director Douglas Weymouth said: “The heavy rain was having an impact on the park and with more overnight, by Friday the ground was absolutely saturated and there was standing water.

“More rain is forecast, it’s quite extraordinary really.”

The twice-yearly trials in June and September have been cancelled by the weather before and organisers have insurance to avoid losing the £50,000 it costs to stage.

Have you got any photos of the flooding you'd like to share? If you have, send them to ian.brogden@cngroup.co.uk and they'll be added here. Or, you can text them to 88833 using the keyword ns pix

What's the situation like where you are? Tell us below...

Have your say

Janice, I live in a flood zone and managed to get very competetive insurance via a broker in Carlisle. I moved into the property after it had flooded so had no existing cover to rely on but it wasn't a problem once the broker became involved.

Posted by Helen on 18 July 2012 at 09:05

Malcom- it is a waste of time asking for a flood certificate. All insurers are interested in is are you in a flood risk area. My post code is and even though I have never claimed and my property has never flooded I am unable to get insurance other than renew with my existing provider. I am now paying three times more than I did 7 years ago even though I have the maximum no claims. The insurers have various different criteria such as not insuring properties that are a mile within flooded properties or not insuring those properties that are less than 400metres from a river. None of the insurers give two hoots if you have flood defences protecting you. I would have no issue with a big flood excess as I know the chances of my property flooding are slim. But every insurer I have contacted (quite a few!) just refuse to provide a quote. Would love to know how others classed as 'flood risk' are managing to get insurance.

Posted by Janice on 25 June 2012 at 21:40

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