Flooding hits northern England after torrential rain
Torrential rain has caused flooding across large areas of northern England, with some people being forced to leave their homes.
The Environment Agency (EA) has issued more than 30 flood warnings and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has three in place.
Some homes in the Lancashire areas of Croston and Darwen were evacuated after nearby rivers burst their banks.
Up to 500 properties flooded overnight in north-west England, the EA said.
A month's worth of rain - more than 100mm - fell in the North West and North East in the past 24 hours.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman described the flooding as "dreadful".
"The most important thing here is for the government to invest in flood defences. We have over £2bn to be spent on flood defences in the lifetime of this Parliament and it will better protect 150,000 properties," she told the BBC News Channel.
But Labour said the government was cutting more than £400m from flood defence spending over the next four years, and that people were finding it increasingly difficult to get insurance against flood damage.
The EA worked through the night alongside the emergency services to clear debris, monitor river levels and operate flood defences at numerous locations.
Flood warnings were issued to more than 7,000 properties, and more than 11,000 homes and businesses were protected by the defences, the agency said.
EA flood risk manager Pete Fox said Lancashire and West Yorkshire were worst affected by the flooding.
"A small number of people have been evacuated but, by and large, we issue warnings with enough time for people to protect their properties, move upstairs and hopefully minimise the damage," he told BBC Breakfast.
He said this month was set to become one of the wettest Junes on record. "Our hearts go out to people who have had flooding," he added.
There are more than 30 flood warnings in place across northern England and 49 less severe flood alerts covering the North East, North West, the South West and Wales. SEPA has issued 10 alerts.
In other news:
- More than 70 homes were flooded in Croston after the River Yarrow burst its banks, while Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service had more than 400 calls in 12 hours
- West Yorkshire firefighters are responding to a "very high" number of flood calls, especially in Todmorden
- The Great North Swim in Cumbria was postponed until Sunday, and a number of roads in the county are closed
- Nine people were rescued from their cars after flash flooding in the Yorkshire Dales
- Trains on the West Coast mainline between Glasgow Central, Edinburgh and Carlisle have been suspended because of flooding
- A benefit concert is being staged for victims of the floods that hit parts of mid Wales earlier this month, as clean-up operations continue
Villagers said Croston looked like "an island" on Friday night, as the three main roads into the area were flooded.
Jon Lilley, 32, landlord of the Wheatsheaf, said: "My beer is floating. My plants have floated off down the road."
The EA said there had been reports of floods across Oldham, Wigan and near the River Darwen. Evacuation centres were set up in Darwen and Bacup.
Severe flooding also hit areas of West Yorkshire overnight, with police and firefighters rescuing 20 people in the Calderdale area using boats.
The deluge also saw residents of a care home in Todmorden moved to the top floor of the building.
Flooding disrupted a number of train services in the north of England, with buses being used as replacement transport in some instances, according to National Rail.
People have been warned to stay away from fast-flowing, swollen rivers, and not to drive through flood water.
"With further rain expected later today we would urge public to remain vigilant and sign up to Environment Agency flood warnings," an EA spokesman said.
The Met Office has severe weather warnings in place for north-west England, the West Midlands, Strathclyde, south-west Scotland, Lothian Borders, Central, Tayside and Fife, East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber and Northern Ireland.
Forecasters said rain was now easing away from the North West, but more is expected across parts of northern England and Scotland later.
Meanwhile, festival-goers on the Isle of Wight are seeing a brighter day after heavy rain on Thursday and Friday left thousands stranded in their cars and unable to get into Seaclose Park.
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