Minister visits flooded Gateshead communities

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman: "There aren't drains that can cope with 24 hours of intense rainfall"

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The environment secretary has praised the response of emergency services after north-east England experienced a month's rainfall in just a few hours.

Caroline Spelman visited homes hit by Thursday's flash floods in Gateshead as the clean-up continued.

Meanwhile, rail operators have warned of ongoing disruption on the East Coast Main Line as engineers repair damage.

And electricity has been restored to most of the 2,500 homes in the region which had suffered power cuts.

Ms Spelman praised the emergency services for "swinging into action" but said no drains could cope with such an intense 24 hours of rain.

"It's very important that people listen to the forecast warnings and get the text message service from the Environment Agency that will tell you where the risks are," she told the BBC.

Rail disruption

Communities should consider appointing flood wardens to knock on doors and warn people, particularly the elderly, she added.

Showery weather is expected to continue but the Environment Agency said there was "no significant risk" of flooding.

Northern Powergrid said it remained confident that all properties safe to receive an electricity supply after the floods would have power restored by the end of Saturday.

A spokesman said the number of customers without power in the North East and in a position to have their supply restored was 61.

Regarding rail services, the Tyne and Wear Metro network is running a reduced train service and replacement bus service between Monkseaton and Four Lane Ends.

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Hundreds of engineers are working through the weekend to repair areas of the track beds which were torn away by floods at Haltwhistle on the Newcastle to Carlisle route, and Scremerston on the East Coast Main Line between Newcastle and Berwick.

National Rail said journey times on services between Newcastle and Edinburgh could be extended by up to 30 minutes, but normal service would resume on 1 July.

The service between Newcastle and Calisle is also amended, with buses replacing trains between Haltwhistle and Carlisle until 2 July.

Some services between Scotland and north-east England could also be rescheduled to start or terminate at Newcastle.

On the West Highlands Route, buses are replacing trains between Fort William and Glasgow Queen Street after a freight train derailed on Thursday, with normal services not expected to resume before 3 July.

A normal service is expected to operate between London and Leeds, and London and Newcastle.

First TransPennine Express and Virgin Trains are running their scheduled West Coast services.

A BBC Weather forecaster said there could be thundery showers later on Saturday but these would not be as heavy as earlier this week.

There could also be showers in some northwestern areas on Sunday, she said.

The Environment Agency has five flood alerts in place - three in the Midlands - but no warnings.

Alerts mean flooding is possible and people should be prepared but its website said there was "no significant risk" this weekend.

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