Hundreds of homes evacuated over flooding crisis in the UK as David Cameron chairs emergency meeting
Published 27/12/2015 | 09:19
Hundreds more people are being evacuated as flooding continues to cause misery across the north of England.
Prime Minister David Cameron will chair a conference call of the Government's emergency Cobra committee as the crisis deepens.
Police advised between 300 and 400 people to evacuate in York by the River Ouse and River Foss, with hundreds more believed to be at risk.
Hundreds of residents in West Yorkshire and Lancashire were evacuated from their homes on Saturday and thousands were left without power due to widespread flooding.
Dozens of severe flood warnings were still in place in Yorkshire and the North West but no further rain warnings were issued.
A spokeswoman at North Yorkshire Police said the force has advised between 300 and 400 people to evacuate in York, although some people had chosen to stay.
The Met Office said the worst-hit areas would see very little rain today - 1-2mm at most in the late afternoon.
The Environment Agency (EA) has issued 31 severe flood warnings, signalling a risk to life, although many of the rivers involved were predicted to have reached peak levels.
Hundreds of flood warnings and alerts are still in place across England and Wales.
The Met Office was forecasting ice in parts of Scotland today but no further weather warnings were in place.
The River Aire, in Leeds, was predicted by the EA to have reached "record levels" at 11pm last night, with nine severe flood warnings in place.
Residents in York city centre, Huntington, Tang Hall, Osbaldwick and Foss Island were advised to start moving valuables to upper floors and to prepare to be evacuated.
The EA said pumps in the Foss Barrier were at risk of electrical failure due to water entering the building and a decision had been taken to lift the barrier.
York City Council said an emergency meeting had been held and the River Ouse was expected to peak at more than 5 yards above normal summer levels on Monday afternoon.
Record levels were also reached in the River Calder catchment area. The EA said river levels were now expected to fall but there was still an ongoing risk.
About 10,000 homes in Rochdale and Lancashire lost their electricity supply on Saturday after a main substation was damaged and another 3,000 homes in North and West Yorkshire were also without power.
Electricity North West warned that some properties may be without power until Monday.
Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes in Lancashire and Calderdale, West Yorkshire, as soldiers were drafted in to help with the flooding.
In Lancashire, the Fire and Rescue Service - which was forced to evacuate a flooded fire station in Padiham - said it had been called out to around 350 incidents and rescued 50 people during the floods on Boxing Day.
Todmorden, in Calderdale, was completely cut-off by flood waters and emergency services had to rescue a man from a car after he drove into deep flood water in Mytholmroyd.
Areas of Greater Manchester, including Salford, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale and Wigan, were badly affected by flooding, with more than 300 flood-related calls to the fire service in 24 hours.
A 200-year-old former pub, which sits on a bridge over the River Irwell, in Summerseat, Greater Manchester, was swept away in raging waters, while a gas explosion in Radcliffe was believed to have been caused by the flooding.
A pothole on the M62, which appeared between junctions 19 and 20 near Rochdale, closed the westbound carriageway and, in north Wales, some drivers were forced to abandon their waterlogged cars.
People were warned not to drive unless necessary and rail passengers in Yorkshire were also advised not to travel today, with multiple railways lines either closed or at risk of closure in the wake of the severe flooding.
A spokeswoman for City of York Council said it was dealing with "unprecedented" levels of flooding.
Soldiers were deployed in the city this morning to help with sandbagging and were also sent to Cawood, North Yorkshire, to help with evacuations.
Residents of the Windsor House residential home, in Acomb, York, were moved to other care homes earlier after the basement flooded. The council spokeswoman said their families had been informed.
The spokeswoman said: "Partners and emergency services are working round the clock in York to tackle unprecedented levels of flooding in the city.
"Provisions are in place across multi-agencies following overwhelming river levels for the Foss and Ouse.
"Front line teams from all organisations are working round the clock to protect residents and tourists."
A number of roads were closed in the area and public transport is affected. People were advised to only drive if necessary.
Environment Secretary Liz Truss told BBC Breakfast that levels of rain have been "unprecedented" and said flood defences will be reviewed.
"We've been preparing with a series of Cobras through the Christmas period, so we've got the Army out working round the clock, as well as the Environment Agency, local authorities, to make sure that we protect lives.
"And today the Prime Minister will be chairing a Cobra to continue that work to make sure that we've got all the resources on the ground that are needed to support families in these truly very, very difficult times," she said.
Asked about how much money was being allocated, Ms Truss said the priority was protecting lives and homes.
"We're still in a situation with major flood warnings, people need to look at the latest advice from the Environment Agency, from the emergency services. That's really important because in many places we have not yet reached the high point. So it's really important that that is the effort over the next few days.
"Of course, you've asked about funding and we're looking at schemes similar to what we put in place in Cumbria to make sure families and businesses are supported.
"We're looking at that at the moment, but my priority is making sure that we have a good response effort, that we give families, communities, all the help they need to make sure we protect lives and we protect people's homes," she said.
Ms Truss said it was "right to say" that flood defences had been "overwhelmed" in Lancashire.
"Every single river was at a record high," she said, adding that in Yorkshire some rivers are a metre higher than they have ever been before.
"And clearly in the light of that we will be reviewing our flood defences," she said.
North Yorkshire Police said they have run out of "road closed" signs, writing in a tweet: "Several calls from people that have driven into floodwater, we have run out of road closed signs, don't enter floodwater, avoid flooded roads."
British Red Cross volunteers are staffing rest centres in Salford and Bury, and over 50 people, mostly elderly residents, spent the night in the Bury shelter.
In North Wales, Red Cross volunteers are using 4x4s to transport doctors and nurses to Bangor Hospital following flooding of the A55 and surrounding roads.