Flooded communities counting costs of storms


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The Independent Online

Communities in flooded parts of the UK are counting the cost of the most intense September storm for 30 years as swollen river levels start to recede.

Heavy downpours since Sunday raised river levels, flooded around 570 homes and businesses and caused chaos on rail and road networks.

Post-mortem examinations have found that a young mother and her fiance found dead at a swollen river near Wrexham, North Wales died from drowning.

Alicia Williams and David Platt, both 25, were walking their dogs on a flooded path by River Clywedog in Erddig Country Park. They may have entered the river to rescue one of the dogs and drowned in fast currents caused by heavy rainfall.

Meanwhile, residents at a block of modern townhouses severely undercut by floodwater have been told that some homes will be demolished.

Dramatic pictures of damage to the properties in Spencer Court, Newburn, Newcastle, following this week's heavy rain, showed that they looked close to collapse.

The pilings holding up the four-storey properties were exposed by erosion from the floodwater which is said to have been caused by a collapsed culvert. The block and neighbouring developments were evacuated.

At a public meeting at a local school, residents were told that some properties will be demolished, although exactly which homes and when it would be done is not clear.

In Yorkshire, river levels on the Ouse and Aire are slowly falling but will remain high over the weekend, the Environment Agency said.

The agency said it is focusing on pumping away floodwater and inspecting defences which have had to cope with record river levels for September.

Pete Fox, the agency's head of flood strategy, said: "We have seen this week the devastating impact flooding has on people, families and communities, and our thoughts are with those who have flooded.

"River levels are receding but it will take time for floodwater to subside. Floodwater is dirty and poses a risk to public health. The public should stay out of floodwater and follow instructions from the emergency services at all times.

"We are supporting emergency services in pumping away floodwater so that we can get people back into their homes as soon as possible."

Environment Agency teams are also clearing debris from rivers before rain forecast for Sunday to reduce the risk of further flooding.

There are still 26 warnings of likely river flooding in place, mostly in the north east of England.