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Sunday, 13 July 2014

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Stranded train passengers rescued after landslip

A huge emergency response swung into action today after a night of heavy rain triggered a train derailment and left several areas of west Cumbria devastated by flash floods.

Efforts to 'rescue' passengers stranded on the derailed train suffered a blow when the second train was affected by a new landslip.

The Sellafield-bound train carrying passengers from the derailed service was halted after encountering the second slide.

Passengers were taken to Nethertown to be transported by road to a reception centre at the Sellafield nuclear site.

The initial 6am Maryport to Lancaster service came off the line a mile south of St Bees after running into a landslip at around 6.45am.

Network Rail has confirmed that about 100 passengers were on board at the time but the train remained upright and there were no injuries.

The recovery train was sent to the scene to ferry the passengers, including a number of Sellafield workers, to the reception centre.

Trains are now running between Barrow and Sellafield. Buses are running between Whitehaven and Sellafield.

It is not known when the regular service will resume.

The police, along with officers from the British Transport Police, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and other emergency services were called to the scene.

As the operation to rescue the passengers got underway, emergency workers – including police, fire and ambulance crews – were conducting a mopping up operation to deal with flash floods in Egremont, Sandwith, Beckermet, Ravenglass, St Bees, and Moresby.

Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service confirmed that it had around 100 calls through the night from people whose homes were flooded, mostly in parts of Egremont.

Many of those affected will need to be rehoused, while a reception centre has been set up at Egremont Market Hall.

A residents meeting was held this morning to help re-house those affected by the floods.

The meeting at the reception centre was co-ordinated by Copeland Borough Council to put victims in touch with housing associations which will help them find temporary accommodation.

A council spokeswoman said: "We are working with other agencies and there has been a residents meeting this morning. We are putting them in touch with housing associations to talk about temporary accommodation. We are trying to give as much support to the community as we can."

She added: "Things are changing by the minute but we are making sure that people are safe and that building structures are safe. We are working with other agencies to help them return to their homes as soon as possible."

Arrangements were being made to move around 20 elderly residents to the reception centre as in many areas it was confirmed that the flood water was beginning to subside.

Cumbria police said that one of the areas worst hit was Beckermet, where the White Mare Hotel was this morning under around 4ft of water.

The cellars, the bottom bar and the ground floor hotel rooms were inundated and this morning landlord Phil Ward was clearing up.

A couple staying in one of the ground floors had to escape through their bedroom window because the force of the beck water was so strong that they couldn’t open the door.

Mr Ward said: “The water had been rising in the beck from about 11pm. Then one of the neighbours came to tell me that the beck had breached and there was four feet of water running down the street. The pub looked like it was in the middle of a river.

“We were stood sweeping the water away from the front door and we managed to save the lounge but the cellar, the ground floor bedrooms and bottom bar were completely flooded out.”

Barbara and James Melrose, from Chichester, were staying at the hotel last night.

They heard the rain get heavier and when Mrs Melrose got out of bed, she stepped in water.

She said: “I opened the door and could initially see the courtyard filling up and I came back to pack my bags and when I tried to open the door, it wouldn’t budge so we had to climb out of the window.

“Phil was the hero of the night helping us all and he even let us stay in his private flat. He was up serving breakfast again this morning.”

At the house next door to the hotel, owned by Juliet and Zach Hudson, the ground floor was flooded. Mr and Mrs Hudson salvaged as many of their personal possessions as they could and took them upstairs. They watched helplessly out of the bedroom window as the flood waters rose.

The beck which runs along side their house had forced a wall down and came crashing into their garden and home.

Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team was called out at around 2.15am to help flood victims in the south of Egremont and they worked through the night to check on flood-stricken residents.

Team leader Mike Greene said the worst hit areas were Beckermet, Middletown and Nethertown, close to the Calder and Ehen rivers.

Silt deposits were so deep in Middletown that residents were unable to open their doors and several cars were underwater in Beckermet.

The team used their four wheel drive Land Rovers to reach inaccessible areas, including the A595 between Gosforth and Egremont which was impassible because of the level of the water.

Mr Greene urged people not to drive into water which was of unknown depth, adding that this was “extremely hazardous.”

The flooding came just a few days after the swollen River Ehen at Vale View, Egremont, swept away the entire back wall of a three-storey house. Four houses were also evacuated in Penrith Road, Keswick, after their back gardens plunged 20ft into the swollen River Greta.

Residents from Egremont's Orgill estate and Church View in the town centre have been in the town's reception centre since it opened around 2am.

Around 50 properties from those areas were affected by flooding and 14 were evacuated.

Copeland leader Elaine Woodburn opened the centre early this morning and the council along with local housing associations Two Castles and Home Group were speaking to residents and assessing their homes.

Coun Woodburn said: "We have a substantial recovery job to do. We are still delivering sandbags to residents in some parts of the borough and keeping people safe is always our number one priority.“

A Cumbria Highways engineer arrived on the scene at Beckermet at around 9am to assess the bridge which had been closed due to the rising water levels. He said however that it was unknown when the bridge will re-open until the water levels subside. An inspection was due to take place this afternoon.

Also in Beckermet the number of homes flooded could have been greater if a culvert had not been installed in the village only a view years ago.

The levels in Beckermet were particularly high on the bridge through the village where the Kerbeck meets the Black Beck.

Firefighters across west Cumbria were working at full stretch after the service took dozens of calls for help.

"The road were like rivers," said watch manager Paul Dean, of Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service.

"One of the areas worst affected was Church View in Egremont, where there are about 20 pensioners' bungalows in a cul-de-sac. Beckermet was almost cut off and there is a road bridge there which has been damaged by the flood water.

"Parts of the A595 were impassable because there was so much water running off the fields."

Two appliances are pumping water away from Railway Terrace in Seascale, where properties have been flooded.

Have you got any photos of the situation where you are? Send them to ian.brogden@cngroup.co.uk and we'll create a slideshow here.

What are things like where you are? Tell us below....

Have your say

Intersting to note that Sellafield turned down request to assist in rescuing/transporting stranded passengers.

as for Norther rail offfering bus service from Sellafield to Whitehave - what they don't tell you is that they won't/don't hold the Carlisle bound train at Whitehaven until the buses arrive!!!!

Feel sorry for anyone wanting to go to Parton or Harrington - Friday's bus went straight to Workington

Posted by stranded passenger on 1 September 2012 at 07:51

To Anon and others - unless you can control the weather then there isn't that much you can do to prevent events like this - at the end of the day we don't live in a perfect world.
Am sure that the people affected by these recent floods are not at all concerned that the world is looking on and find them embarrassing. They have more important things to think about and get on with.

Posted by Jackie on 31 August 2012 at 11:24

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