Environment Agency issues dozens of flood warnings across country and warns of continued rain for region where thousands have already been made homeless. Written by Mike Glover
Householders and businesses in Cumbria have once again been hit by flooding, just days after having finished cleaning up after Storm Desmond. Thousands of people’s Christmas celebrations face disruption as the Environment Agency warned that the rain will continue to fall over the coming days.
Worst hit on Tuesday was the market town of Appleby-in-Westmorland , which was also the first to be affected when Desmond first struck on 5 December. The main bridge was closed and homes flooded for the second time in just over two weeks as the Eden river burst its banks again.
The town’s mayor, Hughie Potts , said: “We just hope and pray it recedes soon. We really need help. It is just too much to be struck again like this. Someone needs to get a grip. The obvious solution is to dig a deeper channel.”
Potts spoke as 45cm (18in) of water filled his home in The Sands. “Outside it is 2ft 6in and rising,” he said as he ushered his family fromtheir home. He had moved upstairs in his terrace house after Desmond and installed dehumidifiers in the ground floor. “They’ll have to be moved now or they’ll be washed away,” he added.
Elsewhere in Appleby, a town of 2,000, a pop-up Co-operative store had to be moved from the bowling green, which was swamped, to avoid it floating down the river.
The flooding of the Eden river could also impact Carlisle, which lies further downstream and is usually affected by flooding about 12 hours after Appleby. The city, visited by Prince Charles this week, had more than 3,000 families made homeless during Desmond.
For the third time this month the Glenridding hotel, by Ullswater, was inundated by the local beck. The hotel reported on Facebook that the beck is overflowing once again past the bridge and what was Ratchers Bar and the Kitchen were flooding again. Contractors are working to save their equipment, said the hotel.
The Environment Agency had issued 24 flood warnings across England and Wales by early evening on Tuesday: five of them in the north-east and12 in the north-west and three in Wales.
These are one step below the most severe category, which warns of risk to life, but still indicates immediate action is required.
Already thousands of families face Christmas out of their homes. An Environment Agency spokesman said on Tuesday: “Rain falling last night and today has led to a rise in some river levels in Cumbria. This will continue throughout the day.
“The amount of rainfall forecast would not usually lead to disruption, but with saturated ground and river levels already high, there may be further flood impacts to roads and potentially to some properties.
“Our operational activity is ongoing with teams taking action to reduce the potential impacts of flooding and supporting those communities affected. Environment Agency staff are on the ground ready to help residents in the event of flooding.
“There is currently the possibility for further unsettled weather during the festive period which could lead to some disruption in the north of England. We are monitoring the situation closely and will issue further flood alerts and warnings if required.
The rivers Eden, Greta and Kent and their tributaries were full to the brim and fields became waterlogged after another belt of heavy rain crossed the region. Appleby, Carlisle, Keswick and Kendal are likely to be the worst-hit. Storm Desmond has already left 6,000 families in those towns homeless, putting pressure on welfare organisations and housing stocks.
Cumbria police said: “A multi-agency response group has been set up in order to combat an extended spell of consistent rainfall which is currently falling across the county.
“Whilst the rainfall is not likely to be near the amount that fell during Storm Desmond, it will be falling on already saturated ground and is likely to cause surface-water flooding on roads across the county.
“Due to the potentially high winds and wet conditions advice issued to drivers is to slow down, plan extra time for your journey and to make sure that your car is equipped to deal with deteriorating weather conditions.”
Source: The Guardian