Judge named as fourth flood victim as June gets wetter

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The Independent Online

The fourth victim of the summer floods was named yesterday as a county court judge with more than 20 years' experience. Eric Dickinson was found dead in his submerged Volvo near Pershore, Worcestershire, where he had attempted to cross a swollen ford.

Family and colleagues paid tribute to the 68-year-old who leaves a widow, three children and six grandchildren. His son Mark Dickinson said: " Anyone who came into contact with him will remember him. He was very much loved, not just by us, but by a wide community of people. Everyone who knew him has been greatly affected by what has happened."

Meanwhile, police were investigating whether a 41-year-old man found in the river Leen, in the Lenton area of Nottingham, on Monday died as a result of the weather.

Earlier, a major search operation was called off after reports that a man had fallen into a flooded dyke in the village of Adwick le Street, near Doncaster.

A man who died when he was caught in rising flood waters in Sheffield on Monday has been named as 68-year-old Peter Harding, who came from the Burngreave area of the city.

He was going home with a friend at 5.30pm when they were trapped under a railway arch by water that rose suddenly from ankle-deep to chest height, police said. Mr Harding was pulled unconscious from the water and, despite efforts to revive him, was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

As the mopping-up operation continued and hundreds of people remained in temporary accommodation through South and East Yorkshire after Monday's storm, the Met Office issued another severe weather warning. It said 25mm (one inch) of rain was expected across parts of Wales, the Midlands and northern England tomorrow. A second system was expected to deliver a further 50mm over the weekend.

A spokesman said: "The hardest hit areas are likely to see further significant rainfall, only exacerbating the flooding."

As the waters subsided yesterday, the Environment Agency downgraded the state of alert on many rivers. However, 12 severe flood warnings remained in force, 10 in the north of England.

There were concerns over a flooded power plant to the north of Doncaster. Engineers from CE Electric UK worked to restore supplies to 19,000 customers while some 3,000 homes were still without power yesterday in Hull and the East Riding, Sheffield and Rotherham . Work was also continuing to shore up the Ulley reservoir dam, south of Rotherham.

The Queen sent a message of support to those affected by the floods. She said: "My thoughts are with those who have lost family or friends, whose homes or livelihoods have been damaged, and all those who have been displaced by these events." Clarence House said the Prince of Wales would be visiting victims tomorrow.

Baroness Young of Old Scone, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, rejected claims that she had "manifestly failed" and should consider resignation after the flood caused hundreds of millions of pounds in damage.

"If there is one major problem it is that there is much more we could do if we had adequate funding," she told the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

Cost could run into billions

Insurers estimate the cost of this week's flooding will run to hundreds of millions of pounds. But the overall cost to the British economy could eventually reach several billion.

Apart from the damage caused by the rising water, businesses have suffered huge interruption costs. Tens of thousands of people were unable to get to work. The closure of several junctions on the M1 alone will have cost millions. Rail and other transport links were also hit, sending the final bill yet higher.

The huge number of expected insurance claims will also push up premiums, producer costs and, eventually, prices. Meanwhile, the Government is under pressure for cutting £15m from its flood repairs budget. The National Audit Office estimates that 469,000 homes and businesses in England, "are at significant risk of flooding" with repair costs put at about £40,000 per household. The head of flood defences at the Environment Agency said the Government needed to increase investment from £500m a year to £750m, rising to £1bn.

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