Page last updated at 22:14 GMT, Friday, 20 November 2009

Body found in Cumbria flood is missing Pc, say police

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Aerial footage of Cumbria floods

The body of a man found after a bridge collapsed over a flooded river is Pc Bill Barker, police have confirmed.

Pc Barker, 44, was directing motorists off the bridge in Workington "saving lives" when it caved in as Cumbria was hit by record rainfall, police said.

Gordon Brown called Pc Barker "very heroic" and the Queen said she was "deeply concerned" about the flooding.

In nearby Cockermouth, where water reached 2.5m (8ft 2in), boats and RAF helicopters rescued over 200 people.

Police also estimate that 400 to 500 people are being housed in emergency shelters in Cumbria on Friday evening.

Pc Bill Barker
Pc Bill Barker was a father of four with 25 years service

Forecasters from the BBC Weather Centre said more rain was expected across the UK from early on Saturday morning, but that this would be moving quickly and would not be as heavy as the previous rainfall.

Between 15mm (0.5in) and 40mm (1.6in) of rain is expected to fall in Cumbria on Saturday, which may slow down the recovery efforts but should not cause major difficulties, forecasters said.

The Environment Agency said the rainfall was unprecedented.

Cumbria Assistant Chief Constable Jerry Graham said both the flooding and the incident involving Pc Barker had left him "devastated".

He said the constable, a father of four whose 45th birthday would have been on Saturday, was a roads policing officer in Workington.

His body was found on a beach in Allonby, almost 10 miles up the coast.

Pc Barker's wife Hazel said her husband was "my best friend, my forever friend, and an amazing dad".

BBC weather
36-hour forecast

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Forecast published at 1200 BST, 20 November 2009

The Queen said she was "deeply concerned and saddened by the dreadful flooding across Britain" in a message to Lord Lieutenants in areas affected by the disaster.

RNLI lifeboat operations manager Captain Brian Ashbridge said there was a "massive current" travelling down the Derwent, making conditions for the searchers "very challenging".

Police in Cumbria have received a high volume of calls about missing people and more than 1,200 people were left without electricity overnight on Thursday.

In Cockermouth centre, the Armed Forces were drafted in to help with the rescue operation.

This included three RAF search and rescue helicopters from bases at Valley, Leconfield and Boulmer and two RAF mountain rescue teams.

RAF Squadron Leader Dave Webster said more than 50 people had been rescued by helicopter, while about 150 more had been helped to safety by the RNLI and other emergency crews.

Five RAF Sea King helicopters were sent to the Cockermouth area, along with RNLI lifeboats and coastguard teams.

FLOOD ADVICE
Do not drive unless essential
Do not walk through floodwaters
Do not try and unblock drains yourself
Look out for vulnerable friends and neighbours
Have torches, waterproofs, water, radios, medication and other essential items at hand in case you cannot get home or need to be evacuated.
Take essential items upstairs or to a high point in your property
Listen to the emergency services and evacuate when told to
Cumbria Police casualty bureau: 0800 0560944 or 0207 1580010
Floodline number 0845 988 1188
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The Environment Agency said rainfall in Cumbria reached record levels with Seathwaite Farm recording 314.4mm (12.3 inches) in 24 hours.

During a 24-hour period Shap and Keswick in Cumbria recorded rainfall of 71.6mm (2.8in) and 64.2mm (2.5in) respectively.

The agency said the rainfall at Seathwaite Farm was a record for a 24-hour period in England, while the Met Office said the amount of rain expected in the west Cumbria area during the entire month of November had fallen in 24 hours.

Its Floodline service received more than 12,000 calls in 48 hours.

In Workington, Northside Bridge - the main bridge on the A597 into the town - collapsed, as did Lorton Bridge near Cockermouth and Southwaite footbridge in the town.

The prime minister said: "Everybody's thoughts and prayers are with those whose people who have suffered the impact of the most terrible floods in Cumbria and in other parts of England, Scotland and Wales.

"These last 36 hours have been particularly difficult for the people of Cockermouth and other people in the Cumbria area."

'Staggering'

Downing Street said Environment Secretary Hilary Benn was in Cockermouth to meet the emergency services and assess what assistance was needed.

I have lived here for 15 years and have never seen anything like it
John Carlin, Allerdale Court Hotel, Cockermouth

Drivers are being warned of "treacherous" conditions in much of Dumfries and Galloway and fire crews have been called to rescue a number of stranded motorists.

Up to 40 businesses were flooded in Dumfries and about a dozen roads in the surrounding area remain closed.

Business owners say it is the worst flooding they have seen in 20 to 30 years, and are calling for better flood defences in the Whitesands area of the town.

In north and mid-Wales, roads were closed and train services disrupted, and a brief power cut in Anglesey affected 2,000 homes.

The Environment Agency has in place four severe flood warnings - all in Cumbria - 15 flood warnings in the Midlands, Wales and north-east and north-west England and 31 less serious flood watches.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) reported five flood warnings and 12 flood watches were in force, but there were no longer any severe flood warnings in Scotland.

The Environment Agency describes a severe flood warning as a threat of "extreme danger to life and property".

Stunned locals have been surveying the wreckage, unable to believe the evidence before their eyes. One said that in 58 years of living here she had never seen anything like it
Mark McAlindon, Workington

John Carlin, owner of the Allerdale Court Hotel in Cockermouth, said the amount of rainfall was "staggering".

"I have lived here for 15 years and have never seen anything like it," he said.

"It's desperate. The town centre is completely flooded, the only people out there at the moment are the emergency services. The water is up to the waists of the firefighters."

About 1,200 homes in the Cockermouth area and 349 around Keswick lost power on Thursday night, although United Utilities said later that services had been restored to 660 properties.

Some 20 schools in the area were earlier forced to close and several were turned into emergency shelters for more than 200 Cockermouth evacuees.

Map of affected area

The flooding in Cumbria is the latest in a series of severe flooding events to hit the UK in recent years.

More than 1,000 houses and businesses in Carlisle, Cumbria, were overwhelmed by water in January 2005, when the city suffered its worst floods since the 1820s.

In June and July 2007 torrential rain lashed the country, flooding Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Wales, the Midlands and the West Country. Among the worst-hit towns were Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire and Upton upon Severn in Worcestershire.


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