Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Saturday, 21 November 2009

Cumbria flood areas braced for more rain


Inside flooded homes in Cockermouth

Flood-stricken parts of the UK are bracing themselves for more rain after England's wettest day on record swamped homes and brought down bridges.

Forecasters predict Saturday will bring 15mm (0.5in) to 40mm (1.6in) of rain to Cumbria, where police said 75 people spent the night in emergency shelters.

There are 22 flood warnings in force across Scotland, northern England, the Midlands and Wales. Four are "severe".

Gordon Brown, who is in Cumbria, said the country was proud of the rescuers.

During a visit to Cumbria police's headquarters in Penrith, the prime minister said: "What you've done in the last few days is tackle one of the greatest rainfalls we've seen in our country and you've done it with such superb organisation, that I want to tell you on behalf of the whole country how proud we are of you."

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Forecast published at 1200 BST, 20 November 2009

Police said they were still conducting a search and rescue operation in Cockermouth, where the water is receding.

Chief Supt Steve Johnson said the emergency services would carry out a search of 800 premises on Saturday to confirm they are empty or check on the welfare of those who had stayed in their homes.

"We have a number of people in reception centres," he said. "A number of people have left those centres and gone elsewhere to friends and family."

With 11 bridges in the area still closed because of fast-flowing flood waters, he warned people not to use bridges until they were deemed safe by engineers.

Walkers have also been asked to avoid the fells, as mountain rescue teams continued to assist in the flood operation.

The BBC's reporter in Cockermouth said a bridge in the middle of the town had been closed after it was deemed "extremely dangerous".

Less intense downpours

All of the severe flood warnings are in Cumbria, where Pc Bill Barker died after a bridge collapsed.

Pc Barker, 44, was directing motorists off the bridge in Workington when a swollen river caused it to cave in.

Pc Bill Barker

The body of the father-of-four, who would have celebrated his 45th birthday on Saturday, was found on a beach almost 10 miles up the coast at Allonby.

His wife Hazel said her husband was "my best friend, my forever friend and an amazing dad", while Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid tribute to his "heroic" qualities.

Cumbria Constabulary said more than 10,000 people had signed up to a tribute on its Facebook page.

In nearby Cockermouth, where water reached 2.5m (8ft 2in), boats and RAF helicopters rescued more than 200 people after rainfall expected for an entire November fell in one day across west Cumbria.

Forecasters say recovery efforts may be hampered by rain through Saturday but that it is unlikely to cause major problems or get near the record 314.4mm (12.3in) for a 24-hour period recorded at Seathwaite Farm.

The BBC's Liam Dutton said the rain would not be as intense or as lengthy as the downpours in recent days.

"It will move through and turn drier thereafter," he said.

'Extreme danger'

It was estimated that 1,100 homes across Cumbria were affected by flooding, with several hundred people displaced and more than 1,000 households left without power.

Four bridges collapsed in the county and schools were used as makeshift community centres after the deluge struck.

Three RAF search and rescue helicopters and two RAF mountain rescue teams had been drafted in to help recovery efforts, with more than 50 people rescued by helicopter.

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
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

About 150 more had been helped to safety by the RNLI and other emergency crews.

The Environment Agency said its Floodline service received more than 12,000 calls in 48 hours after the "unprecedented" rainfall.

It says the severe flood warnings still in place in Cumbria describe conditions posing a threat of "extreme danger to life and property".

As well as the other 14 standard flood warnings, it has issued 31 less serious flood watches across England and Wales.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has five flood warnings and 14 flood watches in force.

Drivers have been warned of "treacherous" conditions across much of Dumfries and Galloway where 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.

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

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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