Freak floods hit Eng­land

Scores res­cued in Lake District af­ter record rain­fall

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

COCK­ER­MOUTH: Mil­i­tary he­li­copters winched dozens of peo­ple to safety and emer­gency work­ers in in­flat­able boats res­cued scores more as floods yes­ter­day swamped north­ern Eng­land’s pic­turesque Lake District. One po­lice of­fi­cer died af­ter a bridge was swept away by the surg­ing wa­ters.

Bri­tish sol­diers yes­ter­day con­ducted house-to-house searches for those trapped by floods as deep as 2.5m. Troops also dropped down on lines from air force he­li­copters, break­ing through rooftops to pluck peo­ple to safety.

Emer­gency ser­vices said more than 200 peo­ple were res­cued in the hard­est-hit town, Cocker mouth. At least 960 homes were flooded af­ter a day of un­prece­dented rain, po­lice in the north­ern re­gion of Cum­bria said.

Heavy rain and gales also brought wide­spread flood­ing to Ire­land, as more than 1m of wa­ter shut down the cen­tre of the coun­try’s sec­ond-largest city, Cork, and more than a dozen towns and vil­lages.

Cocker mouth, a mar­ket town 530km north­west of Lon­don, lies at the junc­tion of the Cocker and Der­went rivers and is known for be­ing the birth- place of poet William Wordsworth.

“It has dev­as­tated the town,” said Michael Dunn, man­ager of the Bit­ter End pub in Cock­er­mouth. “There are a lot of prop­er­ties in Main Street, pri­vate shops, that have had their win­dows smashed in by the force of the wa­ter and by de­bris in the wa­ter.

“There were cars float­ing down the street. It will be a long time be­fore Cocker mouth re­cov­ers from this.”

The rain stopped and flood­wa­ters be­gan to ease yes­ter­day, giv­ing res­cuers a chance to reach trapped peo­ple by boat. De­bris swirled around the boats as they pulled peo­ple to safety.

Fore­cast­ers said the rain­fall was un­prece­dented. The En­vi­ron­ment Agency recorded 314.4mm of rain in 24 hours in one spot – one of the wettest days ever recorded in Eng­land.

“It looks like a very his­tor­i­cal event,” said Ju­lian Mayes, a fore­caster with Me­teoGroup UK.

En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Hi­lary Benn told the BBC that flood de­fences were meant to with­stand a one-in-100-years flood – but could not cope with the vol­ume of wa­ter.

“What we dealt with was prob­a­bly more like one-in-a-1000, so even the very best de­fences, if you have such quan­ti­ties of rain in such a short space of time, can be over-topped,” Benn said.

Po­lice urged peo­ple not to travel, as many roads were im­pas­si­ble. Two bridges col­lapsed in the town of Work­ing­ton, in­clud­ing a main one over the River Der­went. Cum­bria Po­lice said Con­sta­ble Bill Barker, 45, was swept into the wa­ter as he stood on the bridge. The force said yes­ter­day that res­cuers search­ing for him had found a body. – Sapa-AP

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