UK floods: Homes at risk as misery continues

The foundations of a block of flats in Newburn near Newcastle could clearly be seen from the air

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Flooding misery is continuing as rising waters put thousands of people's homes at risk around the UK.

The wet weather is still causing chaos in many communities, with roads, rail and buildings affected.

A block of flats in Newburn, Newcastle, is said to be close to collapse and Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, was split in two after a bridge was closed.

Homes and businesses in York city centre were also flooded after the River Ouse burst its banks.

Local people told the BBC the flooding could be the most severe in recent memory, however the Environment Agency said the river would not breach the city's flood defences.

There are still nearly 60 flood warnings - indicating flooding is expected - and more than 100 flood alerts - meaning flooding is possible - in England and Wales, and three flood alerts in Scotland.

Flooding in York could be the most severe in recent memory, according to locals

In Wiltshire, an 11-year-old boy is in a "potentially life-threatening condition" after being struck by lightning shortly after 15:00 BST.

While in Newcastle, police branded looters "despicable" after a bicycle shop in a flood-hit community was raided while roads were blocked by water and silt.

In other developments:

  • A man has spoken of his escape from his car seconds before it was submerged by raging floodwater in Newburn, Newcastle
  • In West Yorkshire six flood warnings remain in place, along parts of the rivers Aire, Calder and Wharfe
  • Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire was divided when a bridge over the River Ure was closed due to flooding. Further north, a small bridge partially collapsed in the village of Scorton, near Richmond
  • Train services remain subject to some disruption and delays in northern England and Wales
  • The North Sea foam that swept into Aberdeen during storms on Tuesday has now cleared
  • Durham Police says the A1 (M) has reopened southbound, with a 50mph advisory limit, but is still closed northbound at Leeming Bar
  • London Road in Northwich town centre is closed amid fears the River Weaver will burst its banks
  • North Yorkshire firefighters evacuated about 20 homes in Dalton, near Thirsk
  • A river known locally in the Scottish Borders as the Cuddie burst its banks in Peebles, flooding nearby roads and pavements
  • East Coast trains said it had resumed a near-normal service between London and Edinburgh

In Newburn, bikes worth thousands of pounds were stolen from KB Cycles overnight.

Weather information

From the BBC:

Elsewhere:

The Newburn flats' foundations were badly damaged after heavy rain deluged the area. The flats have been evacuated.

Mick Murphy, technical director of Newcastle City Council, said the Spencer Court flats were "extremely unstable" and they were waiting for a break in the weather so the damage could be assessed.

"I have never seen anything like this in 33 years of civil engineering experience," he said.

Flooding is still causing problems for roads, rail and buildings, as the most intense September storm for 30 years continues.

BBC weather forecasters said the heaviest rush-hour showers were seen in south-west England, circulating around low pressure over Torbay.

They said they received reports of nearly 20mm (0.75ins) of rain falling over the course of an hour in some areas.

In northern England, the A1 near Catterick and the A66 near Darlington remained closed.

Oli Barrett: "A few drivers passed us smiling and giving us the thumbs"

Assistant Chief Constable Iain Spittal, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "The flooding situation across North Yorkshire continues to cause problems, with roads and the transport network affected.

"We are seeing an improving picture in parts of Hambleton and Richmondshire, although we still have lots of roads closed and all the agencies are working hard to get the A1 open again.

"However, the indication is that the A1 at Catterick will remain closed throughout the day with diversions in place."

Downing Street said there were currently "no plans" for meetings of Number 10's Cobra emergency committee but the situation was "always kept under review".

The Local Government Association has called on the government to set up an emergency fund to help pay for millions of pounds of repairs to roads left in "disarray".

At the scene

I can see a huge pile of mud which looks like it has landed from nowhere on what was once a bustling high street.

We now know it is a landslide which has been washed down from the top of the hill and the rubble, mud and silt also contains the foundations of a block of flats.

Diggers are working to get rid of the debris but it is going to be quite a while before they remove, for instance, a car I can see which is buried almost up to its roof in silt.

It is an unprecedented scene, and while it may look terrible down here, at the top there is a block of flats, teetering on the edge of collapse.

BBC weather forecaster Helen Willetts said the worst of the rainfall was over but the worry was that it was still running into river systems so there could be more flooding.

Morpeth in Northumberland suffered flooding in 2008 and again during this storm but defences are not expected to start being built until next year.

Alan Bell, of the Morpeth Flood Action Group, said residents were afraid every time it rained: "There's always panic in the town, we always check the weather."

He added: "When you've been flooded, you always worry about when it rains. Four years is a long time. At least we might be able to rest easily at night when it's raining."

Floods minister Richard Benyon said he understood the "frustration" the residents felt at a lack of action on flood defences.

BBC Weather's Peter Gibbs has the details of why the low pressure system is being recorded as the most intense September storm in 30 years

"It's really tragic for this community because they actually have a flood scheme that is about to start which would protect a lot of homes in Morpeth," he said.

He defended the delays, saying arranging funding, planning permission and construction all took time.

"We have to make sure that the flood schemes we build are a good use of taxpayers' money and are effective in protecting the houses that they seek to defend," he said.

Tuesday saw some places deluged in what was their wettest September day on record, with hundreds of homes being evacuated.

Hundreds of people spent the night in temporary shelter and parts of many roads were closed.

More than 300 properties have flooded across the country since the storm began on Sunday, including in Morpeth, Durham, Chester-le-Street and Stockton, the Environment Agency said.

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UK forecast for 22/09/2014

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