Clean-up under way in flood-hit Cornwall

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A major clean-up was under way today as flood-battered Cornwall recovered from devastating torrential rain.

Residents, businesses and council staff faced the task of removing flood water and inch-thick mud from homes, shops and streets after floods hit the county yesterday.



About 100 homes were evacuated by the emergency services after Devon and Cornwall Police declared a "major incident".



Meteorologists said heavy showers continued throughout the early hours of this morning - although not as severe as the original deluge on Tuesday night and yesterday morning - and the Environment Agency warned of the risk of further flooding.



A forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "There have been heavy localised showers over the whole of Devon and Cornwall throughout the early hours of this morning.



"They started at around midnight and have not been torrential or prolonged, but the rain is falling on ground which is already saturated."



The heavy rains and gale-force winds brought misery to St Austell, Lostwithiel, St Blazey, Bodmin, Par, Mevagissey and Luxulyan.



There were no reports of serious injuries but scores of residents were evacuated from their homes, schools closed, the transport network hugely disrupted and train services stopped by a landslide at Lostwithiel.



As a precaution police closed the 700-year-old bridge over the River Fowey in Lostwithiel as it had been battered for several hours by flood water and there were fears it might give way under the strain.



Prime Minister David Cameron promised Cornwall as much help as it needed to get back on its feet after residents awoke to find their homes and businesses under several feet of muddy water.



Yesterday the clean-up operation got under way to remove thick mud and debris from people's homes and affected streets.



It evoked memories of the 2004 floods in the north Cornwall village of Boscastle.



Barry Green, 46, owner of Lostwithiel Bakery, was at work when the River Fowey burst its banks.



He said his premises in Quay Street were "pretty much destroyed".



"The speed of it was very, very surprising. One minute I was making bread, the next I was wading waist-high through muddy water," he said.



"We've had people coming in to help but it's pretty much destroyed the shop."



The Environment Agency said today that four flood warnings and 15 flood watches were in force for rivers across the region.



"The Met Office has forecast showers into Thursday, with the possibility of heavy localised showers," a spokesman said.



"This rainfall will fall on already saturated ground, resulting in a risk of further flooding in Cornwall."



The Agency said more than 200 properties had been protected by local flood defence schemes, including St Ives, Truro, Bodmin and Tavistock.



As well as police and fire crews, Coastguard rescue teams helped with the search missions, along with RAF helicopters.



Weather experts said Cardinham, on Bodmin, recorded 0.74in (18.8mm) of rain in one hour and 2in (50mm) in nine hours, and added that more rain was on the way.



Cornwall Council leader Alec Robertson praised the response from all the agencies involved in the flooding.



"This was a very serious incident and our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the flooding," he said.



"Almost every part of the council has been involved in dealing with the incident.



"It is also important to pay tribute to all those people who helped their neighbours - this was a real example of communities working together to support each other."



Last night, Cornwall Council held a series of public meetings in Lostwithiel, St Blazey and Mevagissey to provide residents and councillors with the latest information and to offer support and advice.



They were attended by representatives from all the major agencies dealing with the incident, including police, council highways, fire and rescue and health workers.



Cornwall was hit on the first anniversary of the floods which devastated Cumbria and claimed the life of Pc Bill Barker, 44.



He was guarding the Northside Bridge in Workington on the eve of his birthday when it collapsed, throwing him into the River Derwent.



Today, forecasters predicted further showers in Cornwall and the South West throughout the morning, but said they would become more isolated during the day before dying away this evening.



The Environment Agency downgraded the number of flood warnings to three, and the number of flood watches to 13, following the early showers, which were less torrential and prolonged than 24 hours earlier.



The warnings were issued on stretches of the River Clyst, Axe and Culm.



Lord Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, said flood waters were receding in Cornwall and the clean-up was under way. But he warned future flood defence works might be hampered by a tight funding settlement.



"You will never be able to guard against every contingency where the force of nature is operating in this sort of way," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.



"Flood is always a traumatic thing for everyone whose home or business is affected in this way. The good news is that now the flood waters are receding in Cornwall and now the clean-up operation has to get under way."



Lord Smith said the agency would receive £2.1 billion in Government funds over the next four years, enabling it to complete existing projects.



But he added: "Where we will have difficulty, I fear, over the coming couple of years is in starting new flood defences that might have been possible."



Today's clean-up operations in the flood-battered county also come as a large flood response demonstration takes place in Hampshire.



It is part of Operation Watermark, a Government-led initiative to test the nation's response to flooding which culminates in a nationwide flood exercise in March next year.



Today's exercise will last for two days and involve a number of emergency workers simulating a response to severe weather and a flooded campsite.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future