Flood victims return home as more rain is forecast

Clean-up operation begins as homeowners face up to flood devastation in Cumbria

Residents of flood-ravaged Cumbrian towns were warned yesterday to expect further heavy rainfall of up to 4ins and possible flooding as they returned to their homes for the first time since the heaviest rain Britain has ever seen engulfed the region.

The warning came from the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, who said that there might be further flooding across Cumbria. His forecast was confirmed by the Met Office and the Environment Agency.

In a statement to Parliament, Mr Benn said the clean-up operation in the wake of the "utterly devastating" flooding had begun but added: "I must advise the House that further heavy rain is forecast overnight and there may be some further flooding."

Last night, there were 21 flood warnings across the UK and, with more rain due today, the Environment Agency said it was "keeping a very close eye on the situation". The Met Office is warning of 70mm to 100mm (2.8in to 3.9in) of rain over high ground in Cumbria. It was expected to start at about 6am and last until midnight. A spokesman said: "It is certainly enough to exacerbate the recovery problems."

It is not the news that the 900 people who were yesterday allowed to return to the Cumbrian town for the first time since Thursday night's deluge wanted to hear.

Police allowed those affected to return to their properties in Cockermouth after their homes were checked for sewage contamination, structural stability and electrical safety. But for most it was not a happy homecoming as they were confronted by the devastation caused by the floods.

Natalia Ekarad, 28, said she was "devastated" when she returned to her home in Cockermouth to find her kitchen and lounge had been ruined. "We have been here two years and were so happy. Now everything is gone," she said. "I was dreading coming here today. I just cannot believe it. I have no idea what we will do."

Elaine Oxon, owner of fashion store Westmidges, lost her entire stock. She said: "The smell is absolutely horrendous, it might be contaminated. We may never be able to open again and I feel like giving up. Everything is ruined."

Many homes and businesses in Cumbria remained cut off by collapsed or damaged bridges last night. The floodwaters washed six bridges away and left residents facing huge detours just to travel a few miles.

Structural engineers and military experts were carrying out an urgent safety review of the county's 1,800 bridges as fears grew that Calva bridge in Workington was on the brink of being swept away, something which would isolate the town.

Tony Cunningham, Labour MP for Workington, said: "My major concern is residents who are cut off. Things are getting desperate." Canon Bryan Rowe, of St Michael's Church in Workington, added: "The whole community is hurting. We are isolated. We are a long way from a motorway now. We can't even go to the other side of the river."

Gordon Brown, said there would be emergency funding to help rebuild bridges and roads devastated by the floods. Cumbria Police Chief Constable, Craig Mackey, said: "What will distinguish this from many other floodings across the country is the length of time the recovery phase will take. We will be working with our communities for weeks, months, and in some cases years to come."

Cumbria floods: The aftermath

*Six bridges collapsed, 16 bridges and 25 roads closed, meaning detours of up to 90 miles.



*1,800 bridges being checked for structural safety.



*1,300 homes damaged by flood water.



*13 primary schools and five secondary schools closed.



*There are 20 flood warnings still in place across the UK.



n £2m allocated by the Government and £140,000 in donations raised for the clean-up operation.

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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map