Page last updated at 12:00 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 13:00 UK

'Thousands' await flood repairs

Flooding in Hull
More than 10,000 properties in Hull were damaged by June's floods

A flood recovery expert has revealed about 8,000 people in East and South Yorkshire are still unable to return to homes damaged in last summer's floods.

The figures were unveiled as a report by MPs said the government was still unprepared to deal with a repeat of last June's heavy rainfall.

The MPs warned the nation's "chaotic" flood defences meant large areas were still at risk.

Hull, Sheffield, Doncaster and Barnsley were badly affected last June.

Two people died in Sheffield and thousands of homes were damaged when floods hit the city. In Hull, more than 10,000 properties were affected.

The public will not forgive the government if it is not seen to be responding to the lessons learned from the floods of last summer
Committee chairman Michael Jack

Paul Hendy, a floods recovery consultant with the National Floods Forum, said some 2,000 properties were being repaired, leaving about 8,000 people out of their homes.

He said: "Here we are, virtually 11 months on from the floods, and there are literally thousands of people still struggling to get home, it's absolutely appalling.

"I have spoken to a lot of people who have gone back home, but only because they've had no choice, and it's questionable as to whether their homes are actually liveable.

"Some families are living out of two bedrooms - sleeping in one, and using the other as a kitchen area."

Surface water

Reacting to the MPs' report, Carl Minns, leader of Hull City Council, defended the council's response to the floods.

He said: "In the first 12 hours people were getting a handle on the situation. As the week went on things got better.

"It wasn't just around planning and organisation. Every major road in Hull was under water. If you can't get around the city, it will slow down your response."

A six-month investigation by the Commons Environmental Select Committee revealed the nation's current flood defences are focused on river and coastal flooding, but about two thirds of last summer's floods were caused by surface water, often following heavy rainfall.

The government has increased spending on flood risk management, but the report said the 800m was "inadequate".

'Confused and chaotic'

Committee chairman Michael Jack said: "The public will not forgive the government if it is not seen to be responding to the lessons learned from the floods of last summer.

"Our report has shown how confused and chaotic was the infrastructure when it came to preventing and dealing with surface water flooding.

"The government must bring clarity to this situation so that the public, wherever they live, can have peace of mind that every effort is being made to avoid a repeat of the fiasco."

The MPs said problems were compounded because no organisation has overall responsibility for surface water flooding at a national or local level and it was unclear who was responsible for overflowing drains.

They recommended the Environment Agency should take a strategic role in dealing with surface water flooding nationally, and guidance to local authorities who should have a statutory duty to deal with surface drainage.

Mr Minns backs the MPs' recommendations.

He said: "The Environment Agency taking over that role and building things together is a very important step.

"At the moment everyone has responsibility. When everyone has responsibility, no one has responsibility."

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