Homes evacuated as month's worth of rain falls in a day

 

More than 11,000 homes and businesses are being protected by flood defences and owners of 7,000 properties have been issued with warnings as people were forced to flee after more than a month's worth of rain fell in 24 hours.

The Environment Agency said people should remain vigilant and warned of further rain throughout Saturday and into Sunday in areas of northern England already counting the cost of what it said was "exceptional rainfall and record river levels".

There are 95 areas under a flood warning, where rivers are expected to burst their banks, with a further 51 on alert for possible flooding as defences in areas including Preston, Wigan, Catterall and Garstang were used to stop the rising water.

The deluge battered revellers at the Isle of Wight Festival and brought havoc to Cumbria which buckled under the worst of the wet weather.

As much as 100mm of rain fell on the region overnight, while south-west Scotland, Northern Ireland and Lancashire also experienced unusually heavy rainfall.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: "A month's rain has fallen over parts of north-west and north-east England in the last 24 hours and with further rain expected later today, we would urge the public to remain vigilant and sign up to Environment Agency flood warnings.

"We also urge the public to stay away from fast-flowing, swollen rivers and not to drive through floodwater."

The outlook for the coming days is more promising. A band of wet weather is expected to sweep the country from west to east tonight. Forecasts suggest it will pass relatively quickly, meaning no one place should see more than five hours of rain.

Amounts of between 10mm-15mm are expected to fall quite widely before clearing in many areas tomorrow, with much of the country expected to see a dry day on Monday.

People flooded out of their homes should be able to recoup the cost of temporary accommodation from their insurer, according to the Association of British Insurers.

Nick Starling, ABI's director of general insurance, said: "Unwelcome events like this are exactly why people take out insurance, and insurers will very quickly be mobilising claims staff to get claims moving and to help relieve the trauma that those flooded are facing."

Forecasters said water levels would begin to recede but further showers are expected to slow the clear-up process, meaning some areas will remain swamped.

The bad weather is set to improve, with the possibility of sunshine for festival-goers on Sunday.

Matt Dobson, senior forecaster at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said Borrowdale in Cumbria bore the brunt of the bad weather with an estimated 100mm of rain.

"It has been exceptionally wet overnight across Cumbria," he said.

"By the end of the night, it is fair to say that probably 70mm-100mm fell over 24 hours which is a month's worth of rain. It looks like the worst is probably now over for Cumbria. There will still be some showers today and overnight but it is not going to be anywhere near as bad as it has been.

"The worst weather today is going to be across Scotland where there is likely to be further heavy rain or thunder storms. But the good news is the Isle of Wight is likely to have a dry day."

Met Office severe weather warnings are in place in the North West, Yorkshire and Humber, West Midlands, the South West, Northern Ireland, Strathclyde, south-west and central Scotland, the Lothians, the Scottish Borders, Tayside and Fife.

The Met Office said the wettest places in the country yesterday were all in Cumbria, Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

Blencathra in Cumbria - 93.8mm (3.6in) - was the worst affected, followed by Keswick (88.6mm/3.4in), Stonyhurst in Lancashire (74.4mm/2.9in), Levens Hall in Cumbria (58.2mm/2.3in) and Morecambe on the Lancashire coast (57mm/2.2in).

Some families spent the night in temporary accommodation after they were evacuated from properties in Lancashire when rivers burst their banks.

A concert tonight by singer and Doctor Who actor John Barrowman at the new Tower Festival Headland venue in Blackpool has been cancelled on health and safety grounds, a spokesman said.

Severe flooding also hit areas of West Yorkshire overnight, especially in the Calderdale area.

The centres of the towns of Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd were inundated and Todmorden was also badly affected, firefighters said.

Overnight, the River Calder at Hebden Bridge measured a record 3.2 metres.

At one point yesterday evening West Yorkshire Fire Service issued a message saying it could only respond to incidents in which life was in danger due to the amount of calls.

Further north, firefighters in the Yorkshire Dales had to rescue people from cars trapped by flash flooding.

Councillor Simon Young said the River Calder burst its banks at about 9pm last night in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire.

"It was really a pretty devastating picture," he said.

"Countless homes and businesses were under water in the centre of Mytholmroyd.

"I've spoken to a lot of people, a lot of whom have lived in the area for years, and they cannot remember anything like this in the last 24 years."

An 80-year-old pensioner was hospitalised yesterday with serious injuries following a collision in heavy rain on the A6112 between Preston and Duns in the Scottish Borders at around 2.15pm.

PA

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