Flooding hits northern England after torrential rain

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Media caption,

The BBC's Nick Ravenscroft: "A month's worth of rain in a day"

Torrential rain has caused flooding across large areas of northern England, with some people being forced to leave their homes.

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:

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."

Media caption,

Rory Wiggin at Hebden Bridge: "The engine cut out so I decided to abandon the car"

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.

'More rain'

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.

Image caption,
Pub landlord Jon Lilley said the water "just kept coming closer and closer"

"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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