UK floods: Storm Frank threatens more misery
A fresh storm threatens to bring more misery to parts of the UK, including areas already hit by severe flooding.
Storm Frank is due to sweep in from Tuesday evening, with Cumbria and south and central Scotland most at risk.
There are four severe flood warnings – meaning “danger to life” – in force in England and Wales, along with 47 flood warnings requiring immediate action.
An old stone bridge in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, has collapsed, and as a result a nearby gas pipe has ruptured.
The area around the bridge, over the River Wharfe, has been cleared. Shops and businesses in the main street of the small market town have been badly affected by flooding since the weekend, and the bridge had been closed for the past two days.
Twelve people have been evacuated from their properties as a result of the gas leak.
Meanwhile, Communities Secretary Greg Clark announced on Tuesday £50m extra funding to help households and businesses affected by flooding in northern England. The government says it has now pledged more than £100m towards the crisis.
The head of the Environment Agency, Sir Philip Dilley, is expected back in the UK by Wednesday, cutting short the Christmas holiday that he was spending at his property in Barbados.
Floods minister Rory Stewart told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme residents should prepare for what could be “a very bad situation [on] Wednesday and Thursday”.
December has already seen communities in Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Yorkshire swamped by rising waters and Storm Frank now poses a new threat.
The number of severe flood warnings is now four – three at Croston in Lancashire, where an RAF Chinook helicopter has been delivering one-tonne sandbags in a bid to try to shore up the nearby River Douglas.
The fourth was issued in response to the collapse of the Tadcaster Bridge, where “significant flooding” is now expected.
The Met Office issued amber weather warnings – meaning “be prepared” – for rain in Strathclyde; Central, Tayside and Fife; Dumfries, Galloway, Lothian and Borders; Grampian; and north-west England for Wednesday.
There are also yellow weather warnings – meaning “be aware” – for rain for the rest of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, north east England and Yorkshire and Humber.
By Fiona Trott, BBC News, York
One place counting the cost is York’s popular tourist attraction, the Jorvik Viking Centre.
“It’s really hard to see it like this,” the museum’s director of attractions Sarah Maltby told us as we waded through the contaminated floodwater that has closed it.
The faces of the Viking dummies looked strange in the torchlight, and it felt warm and damp. Sarah explained how they saved some of their priceless exhibits by ripping a door off its hinges and using it as a flood barrier.
“Within about six hours we moved all our most valuable items – an original Viking sock, bowls and tools all dating back to the 9th Century.”
The museum attracts 400,000 visitors a year and they don’t yet know when it will reopen. It’s just one corner of this historic city that’s now counting the cost.
BBC weather presenter Sarah Keith-Lucas said: “The wind and the rain will strengthen during the course of Tuesday, all down to Storm Frank.
“That’s going to be pushing towards the north of the UK but Tuesday night into Wednesday a trailing weather front will be quite a troublemaker, bringing not only destructive winds but also further heavy rain.”
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency warned Storm Frank could bring further flooding to Scotland. Wales is also bracing itself for more rain.
Further afield, Ireland has also issued weather warnings ahead of the arrival of Storm Frank – two orange (equivalent to amber) and two yellow, both for wind and rain.
At the scene - Jorvik Viking Centre, York
n York, BBC correspondent Jeremy Cooke says there is a bleak outlook for many, with some facing the loss of their livelihoods and others worried about claiming for the flood damage amid fears insurance companies will not insure them again.
Meanwhile, West Yorkshire Police warned residents that there had been incidents of theft of property left out to dry and said motorcycle clubs had offered to assist police in patrolling flood-hit areas “as extra eyes and ears on the ground”.
‘Lot of money’
The floods minister said £2.3bn being spent on flood defences over six years would allow the government to take long-term decisions.
“We have to try to be fair, we’re putting a lot of money into this and we’re making sure we’re spending it in the most cost effective way we can,” Mr Stewart said.
The government has ordered a major review of flood prevention strategy.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told Today that the issue of flooding should be beyond party politics and any review must include the input of experts on the ground.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said extra funding was needed for flood defences and said David Cameron needed to “show he cares about the North by following up his words with deeds”.
The Met Office said parts of Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire had seen record levels of rainfall for December.
(Source: BBC News – 30 Dec 2015)