North-east England hit hardest by the worst flooding in half a century

Regional roundup
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The Independent Online

North-east

North-east

Yorkshire, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear and were the worst affected areas. They had largely escaped the worst of the weekend's storms but after 85mm of rain fell in 24 hours, six severe flood warnings were issued yesterday, with a total of 65 flood warnings and flood watches imposed.

The River Aire was hit by several severe flood warnings, including central Leeds, as West Yorkshire endured some of its worst flooding in 50 years. Car parks flooded, stranding some motorists.

The Environment Agency warned people not to enter the city centre unless absolutely necessary. "If there is a breach of the river, we will be looking at implementing road closures," a spokeswoman said.

Residents were evacuated from 400 homes in Stockbridge, near Keighley, with concerns mounting about the risks to 700 properties, including a chemical works at Castleford, and 900 homes in Mickletown. Similar flooding threatened Shipley and Cottingley near Bradford.

In North Yorkshire, 30 people were evacuated after 60 homes around Skipton were flooded. Dinghies were used to retrieve stranded drivers. Numerous roads were still closed because of flooding.

South-east

Kent, Sussex and Hampshire were hit by 11 severe flood warnings and 54 other flood warnings and flood watches covering rivers such as the Medway, the Beult, Teise and Cruckmere.

The Thames Valley and greater London area had 124 warnings and alerts issued, including three severe flood warnings affecting the Mole in Surrey, and long stretches of the Roding in Essex, from Loughton through Ilford to Barking on the Thames east of London.

One driver was plucked from the roof of her car by two police officers in a Land Rover moments before it was swept away by floods at Fordcombe, Kent. Bernadette D'Souza, 45, from Chatham, said she "drove into the water thinking it was just a large puddle".

In Yalding, Kent, some residents rejected police offers of evacuation, despite a warning that their 30 homes were at risk from the Beult, which burst its banks three weeks ago. One woman and a young child from the nearby village of Collier Street, close to the Medway, were rescued by a farmer with a rowing boat as her home was surrounded by 3ft of water.

Other Yalding residents had been evacuated from their homes by the Army as parts of the town flooded on Monday night. In Uckfield and Lewes, East Sussex, residents were warned they faced a possible repeat of last month's floods as the River Uck rose and threatened to burst its banks.

Residents were evacuated in London Colney, near St Albans, in Hertfordshire, after the River Colne burst its banks. Police were also battling to re-open roads in the county after hundreds of trees were blown down and water flooded roads.

Midlands and Wales

Central England was affected by five severe flood warnings, within 67 other flood warnings and watches. Parts of Shrewsbury in Shropshire were also hit by the heavily-swollen Severn, which flooded parts of the town.

Much of Wales was covered by 15 flood watches and alerts, including four severe flood warnings affecting the Monnow at Monmouth, the Lower Dee at Bangor-on-Dee and the Wye at Ross-on-Wye.

South-west

Despite suffering some heavy damage last weekend, the situation in south-west England eased yesterday. There were two severe flood warnings in place, for the Severn and the River Avon, among 27 warnings and alerts for the region.

Although many rivers around Bristol and Somerset began to subside, some did overflow. As the Avon burst its banks in Bath, city centre car parks and the home of Bath rugby club, The Recreation Ground, were submerged. In Keynsham, more than 30 carpet warehouse workers had to be rescued by boat after being stranded by three feet of water.

The agency was particularly concerned for the village of Bradford-on-Avon, as a severe flood alert was imposed on the Avon between Melksham and Bathford in Wiltshire. "The picture is looking better as river levels begin to drop but there are still a lot of properties in danger," a spokeswoman said.

North-west

In Cheshire, Merseyside and Lancashire, homeowners and businesses were still coping with the impact of Monday's floods. However, the crisis had eased yesterday, with only two flood warnings in force. Although flood watches remained in place across the counties, it was the only region with no severe flood warning.

Homes were evacuated in Ribchester and Garstang in Lancashire, with part of Ribchester under 3ft of water at one stage. At Northwich in Cheshire, 60 people were unable to return to their homes after the river Weaver burst its banks, and 50 homes were still without power because of flooding.

Anglia

The eastern counties were placed on medium alert yesterday, with a total of 58 flood watches and flood warnings issued, only one of which was categorised as severe.

However, East Anglian police said many minor roads remained blocked by fallen trees or flooding, with traffic problems reported throughout the region.

In Cambridgeshire, the only major flooding was at Alconbury; in Norfolk, roads were blocked by fallen trees.

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