Page last updated at 07:19 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 08:19 UK

Call for review of Cumbria's emergency flood plans

Cumbria reflects on floods which hit the county last Novemver

A review of Cumbria's emergency flood plan should be carried out, according to the county council's leader.

The review comes exactly six months after the county was overcome by the highest level of rainfall fall ever measured in England.

The November floods claimed the life of a policeman as bridges were washed away and communities cut off for days.

Cumbria County Council says flood plans need to be "revisited" to reflect growing concern about climate change.

In the 24 hours from 19 November 314mm - more than 1ft of rain - fell in the county, with areas like Workington, Cockermouth and Keswick hardest hit.

The council review found emergency plans "had been well tested, however, the scale of the flooding was beyond what was predicted".

Six months on, we want the rest of the country to realise that Cumbria is open for business
County council leader Eddie Martin

"Emergency plans now need to be revisited to take account of climate change and severity of the flooding," the review document said.

Several bridges were swept away including Northside Bridge in Workington which claimed the life of Pc Bill Barker who was directing motorists away from the scene when it collapsed.

The town of Cockermouth was the epicentre of the floods as the Main Street shopping area was submerged under eight feet of water at the height of the downpour.

Nearby Workington was cut off as the collapse of Northside bridge and closure of Calva bridge forced motorists to make lengthy detours.

More than 1,300 homes in Cumbria were affected by the flooding and more than 1,000 addresses were left without power.

The Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund was set up amid the crisis with the donation total reaching £2.28m by the end of March this year with grants made to all flooded communities.

Insurance estimates put the cost of the floods at about £250m

Council leader Eddie Martin said: "Six months on, we want the rest of the country to realise that Cumbria is open for business, but also to recognise that we're still recovering from the floods and there's some important lessons to be learned."

The council's review also concluded that the first months of this year were "exceptionally difficult" for the tourism industry.



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