UK weather: Yalding villagers cut off by flood confront David Cameron

Prime Minister praises ‘real spirit’ of storm victims in Kent left without power for five days

A flood victim confronted David Cameron on Friday claiming that her village had been abandoned to the storm by the authorities, amid growing anger over power cuts.

The Prime Minister, who praised the emergency services on Friday for doing an “amazing job”, appeared rattled when he was taken to task by Erica Olivares live on television during a visit to Yalding in Kent, which has been hit by serious floods. He later tweeted that people in the village had had a “tough Christmas” but had “shown real spirit”.

Mr Cameron called on councils, energy companies and insurers to “help people recover from the terrible shock” of the storms over the past five days. An estimated 1,200 homes have been flooded over the festive period, while the Energy Networks Association (ENA) said around 4,000 properties were still cut off in the UK today.

Scottish Power said Thursday night’s storms, in which winds peaked at 100mph, caused power cuts to at least 28,000 homes in Wales and Scotland.

In Yalding, Mr Cameron told residents there was much to do. “We need insurance companies to get round so the loss adjusters can help households,” he said. “We need the council to get round with skips so people can get their carpets and furniture removed. We need to get the power back on, and we need to learn the lessons.” The Prime Minister added that the Government was spending more on flood defences over the next four years than over the past four years. He said more than “80,000 houses [were[ protected this time, but we’ve got to do more”.

But Ms Olivares appeared unimpressed and, in a heated discussion, she told him: “We still have no electric. We need electric. As I say, the council, from Monday, we have been trying to contact them, but they have all decided to go on their holidays. Nothing.”

 

Mr Cameron, who posted pictures from Yalding on his Twitter account, offered to take a look at the damage to her house and personally talk to the council on her behalf.

Shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex attacked the Government and energy companies for leaving some people without power for five days, saying they should be “working round the clock to get everyone reconnected, especially with warnings of more bad weather on the way”.

“People need to know what is going on. The energy companies must ensure they are providing proper information and support to all households without power – and not leaving people’s calls on hold for hours on end,” he said.

He added that if the power supply is not urgently restored the Prime Minister should “seriously consider convening Cobra” to ensure everything possible is being done.

While many in Yalding complained they were not adequately warned of the floods, Geraldine Brown, chairman of Yalding Parish Council, said people had been told of the floods on Christmas Eve but some were too “pig-headed” to leave. She said the village’s emergency plan “worked brilliantly” but residents had relied on Sea Scouts with canoes to be rescued as the Kent Fire Rescue Service was unable to reach the village in time.

Helen Grant, Conservative MP for Maidstone and the Weald, which covers Yalding, said the community was pulling together. In one case, an elderly woman stranded on the top floor of her house had her Christmas dinner winched up to her in a bucket.

Tony Glover, a spokesperson for the Energy Networks Association, said the number of houses without power was being reduced as the flood water began to drain away. “There will be pockets of people we can’t reach straight away, but the aim is to get everyone back on by tomorrow who have [had no electricity] for the past few days,” he said.

However, he added that if the weather got worse it would make it harder to reconnect power. “We don’t want anyone to underestimate the difficult situation this has been but thankfully the floodwater is beginning to drain,” he said.

Weather watch: More heavy rain on its way

Saturday and Sunday

The Met Office forecast two days of “quite nice” weather with sunshine and scattered showers, although temperatures will fall to a below average 4-6C for much of the country.

Monday

A band of heavy rain is expected to sweep west to east across the country from northern Scotland to  southern England from about 6am. The Met  Office has issued a severe weather “yellow alert”  because of rain for South-west England in the morning. “With ground already saturated over much of this region, the public should be aware of the risk of further local flooding,” the Met Office said.

Most places should be dry by about 6pm. Forecasters predict winds will gust at speeds between 20 and 40mph.

Tuesday

A second band of heavy rain is forecast to move across the UK from the west and it could still be raining in the South-east as the new year begins. Wind gusts of between 30 and 40mph are expected.

The Environment Agency said it was monitoring the situation and would take a decision about issuing flood warnings closer to the arrival of the two bands of heavy rain next week. “Our teams have been working hard this week on dealing with the flooding and we’re preparing for the other bands of rainfall that are going to come through,” a spokeswoman said.

“We’re advising people to continue to stay safe and be aware of what to do before, during and after flooding.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Magento Front End Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

Investigo: management accountant

£250 - £300 per day: Investigo: Growing international marketing business requi...

Recruitment Genius: ORM / Online Reputational Consultant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ORM Consultant is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of educat...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore