UK

Storm Desmond: Homes flooded and thousands without power

  • 6 December 2015
  • From the section UK
Media captionHelicopter footage reveals the scale of widespread flooding in Cumbria as flood waters reach their peak in the wake of Storm Desmond

Tens of thousands of homes are without power after Storm Desmond caused severe flooding and travel disruption across northern England and parts of Scotland.

Power at about 55,000 homes could be off for "days" following flooding at an electricity substation in Lancaster.

The Army has been evacuating homes in Cumbria and nearly 50 severe flood warnings remain in place.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the government was doing all it can to help people and prevent further damage.

Mr Cameron will chair a meeting of the Cobra contingencies committee on Monday to co-ordinate the emergency response.

"I would like to pay a huge tribute to all those emergency workers and troops who have worked tirelessly to respond to this weekend's events," he said.

"There has been a tremendous response from local communities too, with people taking in families affected by the flooding."

Follow live updates for Storm Desmond

Listen to live coverage from BBC Radio Cumbria

In Pictures: Storm Desmond

Provisional figures suggest more than 340mm of rain fell in 24 hours in the Lake District. The current record is 316.4mm of rain over the same time period at Seathwaite, Cumbria, in 2009.

Media captionDanny Savage joined emergency teams evacuating residents from flooded streets

In Cumbria, where a major incident was declared, emergency crews used boats to carry people to safety and eight rescue centres are open for those forced to leave their homes.

Rescue teams from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution evacuated homes in Carlisle, helping around 200 people.

In other developments:

'We were about to sell our house'

Media caption'We had just sold our house'

Roger and Julie Scoon, of Keswick, put their furniture in a room that was safe during the 2009 floods - but this time around the water came in through the windows.

"We did what we could, we got flood gates, we put tiled floors down so we can mop out, but we never dreamt it would come up here," Mr Scoon added.

The couple, who had been due to sell their house when the flooding hit, said of where they would be for Christmas: "We can't think that far ahead... we'll just take it a day at a time really."

John Chadwick was helped from his home in Carlisle.

"I was evacuated as the River Caldew burst over the flood barriers.

"I live alone and have severe mobility problems including osteoarthritis and mild epilepsy - I just had time to grab some medication.

"I have nowhere suitable to stay as I need ground floor accommodation with disabled access. Social services informed me that they were inundated and I would just have to rough it out at a friend's place a short distance away.

"The waters were 2in deep and I got out by dinghy."

In 2010, a £38m flood defence scheme for Carlisle - which has seen some of the worst flooding - was completed in a bid to protect about 3,000 homes and businesses around the city.

Floods minister Rory Stewart said defences - which have been criticised - had given authorities more time to evacuate people and kept flood levels down.

The defences "held strong" but the huge levels of rain were too much for them, he said.

Media captionStorm Desmond: Pooley Bridge and the Keswick Railway Path Bridge collapse

However, Mayor of Keswick Paul Titley said the defences had been "completely overwhelmed".

"The flood defences were designed for a one in 100-year event and since it's six years since we had the last one, we were sort of surprised that we got one so soon," he added.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A man is helped from his home in Carlisle by rescue teams
Image copyright PA
Image caption Emergency workers use an inflatable raft to rescue two women from flooding
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A man wades through flood water on a residential street in Carlisle
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A Christmas tree in the town of Cockermouth was surrounded by flood water

The Met Office has issued fresh yellow warnings for rain next week for many badly affected areas.

Media captionRainfall radar shows intensity of Cumbria rain

Storm Desmond is the fourth storm to be given a name by the public in a project by the Met Office and Met Eireann in Ireland to help raise awareness of severe weather.

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 the interactive flood map.

Note: the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency display their flood alert data differently. While the Environment Agency 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.

More on this story