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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 July 2007, 19:57 GMT 20:57 UK
Support pledged for flood areas
Flooding in Hull
The cost of flood damage could reach 200m, Hull City Council says
The government insists that it will do what it can to support areas of England devastated by flooding.

Local Government Minister John Healey did not promise any additional money, but said existing grants and insurance would cover much of the costs.

Speaking on a visit to Hull, he said the government's role was to "help the councils and agencies that will have to lead this recovery work".

Hull City Council says the city is the victim of a "humanitarian disaster".

Around 16,000 homes or one in 10 households in Hull have been affected by flooding and 10,500 have been evacuated.

'200m cost'

The Liberal Democrat-controlled council says the cost of flood damage to the city 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.

Quite frankly if this was Chelsea or Fulham, this would have been plastered over the front pages for weeks
Carl Minns, Hull City Council leader

Mr Healey, who is co-ordinating the government's response to the flooding, was joined on his visit to Hull by local MPs John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, and Alan Johnson, the health secretary.

Mr Healey said there was already financial help in place, adding: "There will be more help on its way."

But he made no specific promises and stressed that local authorities must first make a proper assessment of the damage and the help they needed.

"The important thing is how much of the costs are not going to be covered by the councils' insurance, because clearly we will be looking for the insurance companies - and councils have good insurance - to pick up those costs.

"Government centrally will do what it can to support the local council and local agencies in Hull and in other areas that have been so badly affected."

Earlier he told the BBC that he did not believe that Hull was the "forgotten city" of the flooding, as the council has said.

'Traumatic'

Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, will visit Hull on Friday. On Thursday she visited Sheffield, which has also been badly hit by the floods.

She said: "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."

Areas of Hull hit by the floods

Hull City Council leader Carl Minns said: "What we're still waiting for is an assurance that capital money will be available to Hull, so we can start this rebuilding process.

"The government needs to help this city with a large injection of capital, otherwise this city will not recover."

He added: "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 [affected] people get back to normal as well."

Earlier he said: "Quite frankly if this was Chelsea or Fulham, this would have been plastered over the front pages for weeks."

During his visit to Hull, Mr Healey was taken on a tour of Sydney Smith School, which was swamped by 4ft of water.

Headteacher Kevin Beaton told him 100 classrooms had been damaged in the floods and the repair bill was an estimated 5 million.

Meanwhile, a fire chief has defended the crews who tried in vain to save a man trapped in grating in raging floodwaters in Hull.

Mike Barnett, 28, was trapped by the foot in neck-high water in Hessle for four hours, until he eventually died from hypothermia.

His family has said not enough was done by the rescuers to save him.

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


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