Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Cumbria flood fund raises 1m for victims

Aftermath of Cockermouth flooding
Cockermouth was one of the worst-hit areas

A fund set up to help the victims of Cumbria's devastating floods has reached £1m after just 10 days.

The Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund is providing financial assistance for those worst affected by the record levels of rainfall.

More than 1,300 properties were flooded across the county, with Cockermouth and Keswick worst affected.

Fund spokeswoman Deb Muscat described the amount raised as "absolutely incredible".

The figure is already more than the total raised to help those affected by Carlisle's severe flooding in 2005.

Lost spectacles

So far, grants totalling about £40,000 have been handed out.

As well as money for repairs to damaged homes and businesses, recipients include a couple who needed new clothes for their baby and a man whose spectacles had been lost in the flood waters.

Ms Muscat, acting director of Cumbria Community Foundation, which set up the fund, said: "We are greatly encouraged by the response so far but we still need to raise more.

"We know from our experience in Carlisle in 2005 that we will receive requests for help for many months to come.

Flood damaged Workington
The foundation is working to identify those most at need of financial help

"We are therefore appealing to other businesses, individuals and families to consider making a donation to the fund if they haven't already done so."

The foundation is working mainly with local support centres to indentify those who are most at need.

The first phase of grant making is concentrating on the the elderly, people with disabilities and families with children aged under five.

Substantial donations have been provided by organisations including Cumbria County Council, the Northern Rock Foundation, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Booths Supermarkets, Cumberland Building Society and Nuclear Management Partners, which owns Sellafield Ltd.

The fund topped £1m when the Francis C Scott Charitable Trust, a Cumbrian-based charity, announced they were giving £100,000.

North West MEPs Brian Simpson and Arlene McCarthy have urged the European Commission to also provide financial support to help Cumbria recover.

Temporary station

In a letter to Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, they said: "In 24 hours an unprecedented 310mm (12.2in) of rain fell causing widespread havoc, road closures, the collapse of bridges and people left stranded and homeless.

"We believe that Cumbria needs the support and solidarity of the EU at this time of crisis."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has already pledged that the government will fund any road and bridge repairs in the county.

On Monday, Network Rail opened a temporary railway station in Workington, which was effectively cut in half when several bridges over the River Derwent collapsed.

Army specialists are also continuing to work on a new footbridge in the town, which is due to open by the weekend.

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