Tornado, gales and more storms batter Britain

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Extreme weather conditions battered England today. More heavy rain is forecast for flood-hit Cumbria, a driver was killed when a tree was blown on to his van in Sussex and a tornado hit Derby

* In Cumbria, people returning to their flood-ravaged homes and businesses were warned that further heavy rainfall is expected overnight. Gusts of at least 70mph are also forecast.

The Environment Secretary Hilary Benn told MPs there may be further flooding in the region and a ministerial meeting will examine what more can be done to help those affected. Mr Benn paid tribute to Pc Bill Barker, who lost his life in the floods in Workington, telling the Commons "he was a very brave man".

Environment Agency contractor Michael Streeter died following an accident while maintaining defences at Selsey Bill in West Sussex, canoeist Chris Wheeler also died after becoming trapped under his canoe on the River Dart in Devon on Saturday, and a woman is missing in Wales.

Mr Benn said: "Our thoughts are with all their families and colleagues."

Shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert called for a formal review of Cumbria's flood defences and told MPs that Tory leader David Cameron would be visiting the region later this week.

Mr Herbert noted that existing flood defences had been "overwhelmed" by the sheer volume of water, but asked Mr Benn: "When these communities have been flooded twice in four years, would you agree with me that there should be a formal review of flood defences in the area - not just to understand fully what happened but also in order to assess future needs?"

Ministers should consider adding to existing "hard" flood defences across the country with other measures such as upland drainage, Mr Herbert told MPs.

"Our climate is changing and bringing with it more extreme weather," he said.

"Inevitably there will be floods which cannot be prevented. But when one in six homes are at risk of flooding, is it not essential that effective measures are in place to prevent future incidences where we can?"

Mr Benn said even recently-improved flood defences in the area had been "overwhelmed" by recent rains.

But he added: "We will of course look in particular at what can be learnt in relation to flood defences in Cumbria, and upland flood storage is part of the approach the Environment Agency takes."

* In West Sussex, the van driver was killed today after being hit by a falling tree in Bramlands Lane, Woodmancote, near Henfield.

The man, in his 40s, was trapped in his vehicle. West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and the Sussex Police helicopter attended the incident but the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

* In Derby, a tornado hit the Littleover district at around 1.30pm. Firefighters were called just after 1.30pm when tiles were ripped off roofs and garages and homes left damaged.

A Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said: "The incident - a mini tornado - affected numerous properties taking around 50 tiles off properties, and damaging houses and garages."

She said firefighters were removing dangerous tiles, and police were also on hand for "crowd control".

Eyewitness Richard Bryan told the BBC it felt like driving into a "washing machine". He said: "A wall of water and wind just hit the car with terrific force and almost stopped it.

"I got the wipers on full pelt and, when the window cleared, all I could see were three dustbins...and the wind picked them up and they actually flew into the air."