UK

Storm Desmond: Power restored to thousands of homes

Workman cleaning up flooded house in Carlisle Image copyright AP

Most of the homes left without power after severe flooding hit parts of the UK over the weekend have been reconnected, energy firms say.

Power has been restored to all but 1,047 homes in Cumbria and a "handful" in Lancashire.

However, people are being urged to use power "sparingly" because the network is not yet at full capacity.

More rain is due in the area this week, with 16 severe flood warnings, indicating danger to life, in place.

The Met Office also has a yellow "be aware" warning in place for parts of northern England and Scotland on Wednesday and Thursday.

Storm Desmond battered north-west England, as well as parts of Northern Ireland, north Wales and southern Scotland, over the weekend.

Record-breaking amounts of rain fell in Cumbria - the worst-hit county - prompting it to declare a major incident.

In other developments:

  • In a message on Twitter, the Queen sent her sympathy to those affected by the flooding and thanked the emergency services, local authorities, military and volunteers for their help
  • Nearly 100 flood warnings and alerts are in place in England and Wales
  • More than 20 are in place in Scotland, where 600 homes in the Borders town of Hawick were evacuated at the weekend
  • Many schools in Cumbria remain closed and Lancaster University has cancelled teaching for the rest of term after losing power across much of the campus
  • Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said it would be running only essential services
  • Roads have closed in the worst-affected areas
  • Virgin Trains said it had reopened the West Coast mainline, but warned delays were still likely
  • The Cumbrian coast rail line, running between Carlisle and Workington, remains closed

On Monday, as many as 42,000 homes in Lancaster lost power for a second time following flood damage at a substation.

Sixty-three generators are now being used to power 18,000 homes in the city in an effort to relieve the load on the substation.

Electricity North West is urging people to use power sparingly and warning that managed power cuts may be needed later if demand exceeds the capacity.

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Environment Agency map of flood-risk areas

Thousands of homes were flooded by Storm Desmond, forcing many families in Lancashire and Cumbria to evacuate.

June Richardson, from Carlisle, has spent three nights in a rescue centre.

"You feel really tearful - the things you like and work hard for are just floating about," she told the BBC.

Even Christmas presents, which she tried to put high up out of the water's reach, ended up in flood water, she added.

Her husband John said it had been "soul-destroying, especially when it happens again after [floods in] 2005".

The BBC's Ben Ando said the £45m flood defences that failed over the weekend were now acting as a barrier the other way, preventing the flood waters receding as quickly as they otherwise would.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionScience Editor David Shukman assesses the scale of the damage
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionResidents in Brunton Avenue, Carlisle, show the BBC's Ed Thomas through their flooded homes
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Now that most of the water has subsided, homeowners in Carlisle are beginning to assess the damage
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many items are beyond salvaging and are simply being carried to skips or piled up, awaiting disposal
Image copyright PA
Image caption Residents carry what can be saved from their homes to temporary accommodation elsewhere
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many of the communities affected by Storm Desmond suffered similar devastation in 2005 and 2009

In Cumbria, police said a man's body had been recovered from a river. The death of the 78-year-old, who lived in the Staveley area, has been referred to the coroner.

And the body of a 70-year-old man from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, was found on a road in the Republic of Ireland.

It is understood his car got stuck in flooding and he was swept away when he got out.

Meanwhile, there has been criticism of the government because Cumbria's multimillion-pound flood defences - built following floods in 2005 - failed to keep the deluge from people's homes.

Environment Secretary Liz Truss, who is visiting Carlisle, said existing flood defences did make a difference.

"The effect of the defences was to delay the impact and reduce the impact so that gave more time for people to be evacuated, it gave more time for the emergency services to operate and help to protect lives and homes," she told BBC Breakfast.

On a visit to Carlisle on Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron said the flooding was "absolutely horrific" and the government would fully reimburse councils for the costs of dealing with it.

Paul Cobbing, chief executive of the National Flood Forum charity, said building barriers was only one aspect of flood protection.

"We can do an awful lot with, for example, land management upstream, ditch and riverbank management, how we manage the gullies in our roads, how we manage the cambers in our roads... how we build infrastructure projects."

Conservative MP Neil Parish, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee, said the government needed to inject "real cash" - possibly doubling the current budget.

Government documents suggest there will be a decrease in flood defence spending in England, from £802m last year to £695m in this financial year.

Last year's figures were inflated by exceptional funding from the Treasury in the wake of winter floods two years ago, BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said, so ministers are maintaining that underlying expenditure hasn't been cut.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the government of making "false promises" about dealing with flood defences.

Live flood warnings from the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Note: the Scottish Environment Protection Agency display their flood alert data differently to the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales. While the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales highlights individual rivers only, in Scotland the entire region is coloured to indicate the level of alert. This map and flood alert data are supplied to the BBC by third parties. The BBC is not responsible for its accuracy and you use it at your own risk.

Tap here for up to date information.


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