Johnson to hold flooding crisis response meeting as more ‘danger to life’ warnings issued

Forecasters predict more deluges across England and Wales days after thousands already forced to abandon homes

Jane Dalton@JournoJane
Monday 11 November 2019 22:44
Extent of flooding in north of England captured by drone footage

The government will hold an emergency response committee meeting over the flooding that has wrecked homes and businesses across the Midlands and Yorkshire, forcing thousands of people to flee.

The Cobra meeting on Tuesday, at which ministers and civil servants will discuss the response to the disaster, comes as forecasters are predicting yet more deluges across swathes of England and Wales later this week.

The Environment Agency has 39 flood warnings across the UK and five severe “danger to life” flood warnings in place, all in and around Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

The Met Office has a yellow weather warning for rain until midday on Tuesday, covering parts of Stoke-on-Trent, Derby and Sheffield. It warned that frequent, heavy showers in these areas were “likely to cause some flooding and transport disruption”.

The rain on Thursday is forecast to be particularly severe, with two warnings in place, stretching from Kent to Newcastle, and west to Cardiff.

Another includes a warning of “danger to life” which covers South Yorkshire, north Nottinghamshire and north Lincolnshire.

The Met Office highlighted this area as being particularly at risk because it has already suffered devastating flooding, particularly in South Yorkshire.

Insurers are already starting to count the cost of the devastation. After three storms and severe flooding in December 2015, they said they spent £1.3bn repairing and replacing homes, businesses, vehicles and belongings.

Cobra meetings, named after Cabinet Office Briefing Room A in Whitehall, may involve ministers, civil servants, police and others in authority.

Earlier Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, had called on Boris Johnson to call a Cobra meeting and “take personal charge” of the response, saying he disagreed with the prime minister’s assessment on Friday that the flooding was “not looking like something we need to escalate to the level of a national emergency”.

Several areas from Yorkshire to Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire were deluged with a month’s worth of rain in a day during downpours last week. Last month was one of the wettest Octobers on record, leaving ground across northern areas saturated.

Five severe flood warnings are still in place on the River Don, South Yorkshire, which burst its banks last week, forcing residents to leave their homes.

Residents in Fishlake, near Doncaster, fear more flooding is likely unless the existing water is pumped away.

Pam Webb, the owner of Truffle Lodge, a luxury spa in Fishlake, said the community had not experienced flooding in 100 years and said residents needed to know why it had happened now.

She said: “We need to now establish why and how and who should be accountable.

“Is it the flood defences that weren’t sufficient to hold it? Did something give at some other point?”

Ms Webb said the Environment Agency was bringing in pumps after she made a direct appeal.

Additional reporting by agencies

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