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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 July 2007, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Minister in flood cash aid pledge
Flooding in Hull
The cost of flood damage could reach 200m, Hull City Council says
Local authorities will be given financial aid to assist with the damage caused by heavy flooding, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has said.

She said people had gone through an "incredibly traumatic" experience.

Alan Johnson, a Hull MP and the health secretary, has visited his constituency after its council said it had become the "forgotten city" of the flooding.

Mr Johnson went to a flooded estate. An estimated 35,000 people have been affected by flooding in Hull.

It's incredibly traumatic to see your lifetime's possessions ruined and swept away in this way
Hazel Blears

Ms Blears visited Sheffield on Thursday and will visit Hull on Friday to witness the aftermath of the devastation caused by the water.

She said: "Local authorities can make a claim on central government for some of the costs they are incurring.

"Sometimes people came out just with what they stood up in.

"There are crisis grants available, there are some community care grants available. We've really got to see now how we can help people through this process.

"It's incredibly traumatic to see your lifetime's possessions ruined and swept away in this way, and we want to help as much as we can."

Hull City Council says the cost of flood damage to some 10,500 properties could hit 200m.

Some 18m has been earmarked by the city council for repairs to the affected homes, but it has called on the government for urgent financial help.

Some flood victims may not be able to return home for up to a year, the city council has said.

Council leader Carl Minns said: "We need government help and we need government help now.

We need to get the message out to the government to the people of this country how hard Hull has been affected
Carl Minns
Hull City Council leader

"If this was anywhere else it would have been declared a national disaster and I think that Hull has been forgotten about.

"We need to get the message out to the government and to the people of this country how hard Hull has been affected.

"There's a massive humanitarian disaster here that we've set up an appeal fund for - The Hull Flood Fund - and I appeal to people across the country to donate so we can help those 35,000 people get back to normal as well."

One in 10 households had been affected by the floods with many still displaced, he said.

The council fears some schools will not reopen until as late as December or January, although it says it is awaiting full inspection reports.

Meanwhile, the father of a man who died when his foot became trapped in a drain in floodwater in Hull has said more should have been done by the emergency services.

Prince Charles in Toll Bar

Mike Barnett, 28, died in Hessle on 25 June after being trapped for several hours in the rising water as he was attempting to clear the drain.

His father, also called Mike, told Sky News: "The fire [service], the police, ambulances, paramedics, divers were virtually arguing between themselves what they should do, what they shouldn't do.

"They should have known what to do before they even got there."

Mr Barnett was speaking after agreeing to allow footage to be broadcast showing the failed rescue attempts to free his son.

A senior police officer has now been appointed by a coroner to lead an investigation into the incident.

Mr Johnson, who is MP for Kingston Upon Hull West and Hessle, said a proper inquiry was needed to "satisfy Michael's family that we've done everything we can to see the devastating problem that happened to Michael - what could have been done to avoid it".

On Wednesday, Prince Charles visited Toll Bar, in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

He saw some of the devastation suffered by hundreds of homes in the village, which was first hit by flooding a week ago.

On Thursday morning, the Environment Agency still had 11 flood warnings in force in Anglia, north-east and north-west England, the Midlands and Wales.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The aftermath of severe flooding in Hull



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