Cumbrian floods leave £276 million bill

Wrecked homes and businesses caused by the Cumbrian floods left a £276 million bill, it was revealed today on the first anniversary of the disaster.

An estimated £124 million of damage was caused to shops, farms and factories, £91 million of damage to homes and £34 million in restoring the county's battered bridges and roads, according to figures compiled by Cumbria County Council, responsible for co-ordinating the recovery operation.

Much of the cost has been borne by the insurance industry and the taxpayer through support and grants from local and central government.

There were 25,000 flood and storm damage insurance claims, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), with £174 million paid out.

Twenty road bridges across Cumbria were destroyed or damaged but 17 of those are now open to traffic again.

The Grade II-listed Calva bridge in Workington is now expected to open early in the new year, meaning the town will once again have two working road bridges, including the temporary road bridge opened in April.

The Northside bridge, also in Workington, where Pc Bill Barker was killed, is expected to be replaced by 2012.

Road damage was also spread out over a wide area, with huge resurfacing and reconstruction work undertaken.

United Utilities dealt with damaged water mains and has built a new £3.4 million wastewater pumping station at Willowholme in Carlisle.

And more than 2,500 tonnes of gravel and debris, strewn across farmland downstream, has still to be shifted.

Tourism, one of the linchpins of the Cumbrian economy suffered a "devastating" £15 million hit, with £2.5 million lost on cancelled bookings alone and bookings down 7% year on year.

But tourism has "bounced back" it is claimed, with visitor numbers stabilising, and the council said it is "cautiously optimistic" for 2011.

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