Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Sunday, 7 September 2008 12:16 UK

Morpeth residents flee floods

By Raymond Buchanan
BBC News

RNLI crews rescue a resident of Morpeth, Northumberland
Morpeth's river defences could not cope with the volume of water

The River Wansbeck has returned to its traditional boundaries, but its waters are still raging and causing concern for the residents of Morpeth.

The river breached its walls on Saturday, forcing 1,000 people to leave their homes and spend a night sheltering in the town hall and a local school. Many are still there.

"The water kept rising and rising," said James Parker. "I managed to get out just in time."

The student made his way to the school and says he hardly slept all night. He hopes his flat will have been spared the worst, but he has yet to return to find out.

The local council says around 400 homes have been damaged, as the town endured a month's worth of rain fall in just 24 hours.

Morpeth does have river defences but they could not cope with the sheer volume of water.

"What we saw yesterday was a unique event - we recorded the heaviest levels we have ever recorded coming through Morpeth," said Toby Willison, Environment Agency regional director.

"We are working to improve the defences, but the events of the last 24 hours have been unprecedented."

Clearing debris

Elsie Lee left her husband behind to protect the the house as she went for shelter. She is thankful to those who have helped take care of her.

"It has been exciting in a way, it is better than a five star hotel, everyone has been so kind," she said.

Mrs Lee lives in an upstairs flat, and does not think her property has been too badly damaged.

That however is not the case with Jackie English's property. She said: "It has been flooded, my nephew went down there and the water is about 18 inches deep. Apparently they are expecting more rain and flooding later today.

"I don't know when I will get back."

All Mrs English managed to grab before leaving her house were some clothes and her laptop.

"There are a lot of people worse off then me," she said.

For those returning to their flooded homes, the next few days will be spent clearing the debris, and trying to dry out their properties.

With more heavy rain forecast over the next few days many in the town remain concerned that the floods may return.

England floods: Your pictures
06 Sep 08 |  In Pictures
Home collapses as floods strike
06 Sep 08 |  England
Morpeth a 'scene of devastation'
07 Sep 08 |  England


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