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
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
peopleHere's what Stephen Fry would say
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Proust as Captain Laure Berthaud in 'Spiral'
tvReview: Gritty, engaging and well-acted - it’s a wonder France’s biggest TV export isn’t broadcast on a more mainstream channel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Carmichael in still from Madam Bovary trailer
film
News
i100
Sport
Serena Williams holds the Australian Open title
sportAustralia Open 2015 final report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links