Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Wednesday, 22 June 2005 13:57 UK

PM urged to help flood villages

Boy looking at flood damage at his home

Tony Blair has been asked to help North Yorkshire in "its hour of need" after flash floods swept through the county.

During Prime Minister's Questions, the Conservative MP for Vale of York, Ann McIntosh, asked if the government would "dig deep" for repair work.

Mr Blair told the Commons that 500m a year is already spent on flood and coastal erosion management.

He added: "I'm, afraid it is a feature of our current climate that we have to take these measures."

He added: "I would certainly join with her (Ms McIntosh) in sympathising with all those who have lost their possessions or livestock or had their homes damaged as a result of the floods on Sunday.

"I understand, in this case, one month's rain fell in somewhere in the region of two to three hours."

Map showing location of flooded towns and villages
The main flooded areas are on the edge of the North York Moors

The Prime Minister said changes in the climate meant measures have to be taken to protect homes from flooding.

'Remarkable uplift'

"In respect of the flood defences, we are investing around 500m each year in flood and coastal erosion management, that is obviously a huge increase from before.

"If we look back over the past few years, the investment in flood defences has been a remarkable uplift from what went before."

On Wednesday the army was drafted in to help restore access to remote villages that been cut off when floods destroyed roads and bridges.

Food and water supplies have also been flown to those areas worst affected.

Engineers have been assessing damage to bridges in Helmsley and North Yorkshire County Council has built a temporary structure across Chapel Bridge which was also completely swept away.

Roads linking the communities of Thirlby and Boltby near Thirsk were "literally torn up by the flood water" and are likely to need major reconstruction, the council revealed.

HRH The Duke of York has also sent a message of support to those affected.

Prince Andrew stayed in Helmsley last week when he attended the Royal Ascot races at York.

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