Cumbria braced for more flooding as Storm Eva blows in for Christmas

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Britain is braced for more flooding misery with no Christmas let-up from the deluge of winter storms.

Heavy rain is forecast to fall on already swollen rivers and saturated ground in Cumbria, where flooding has hit some areas three times already this month.

But flood alerts have also been issued across a vast swathe of the country from Wales to southern Scotland.

The North East and North West of England is expected to bear the brunt again, as Storm Eva rolls in after leaving almost 2,000 homes and businesses in Ireland without electricity this morning.

Armed forces have been called in and hundreds of Environment Agency (EA) staff are on stand-by to bolster flood defences as more sandbags and water pumps are rushed to Cumbria.

The EA has warned of the possibility of "significant impacts" in parts of Cumbria due to flooding.

The Met Office has issued an amber alert for the county, highlighting the increased likelihood of "medium impacts" from the rain, meaning some flooding of homes, businesses and transport links is possible and warning people to be prepared to protect themselves and their property.

While there is still uncertainty over where the heaviest rainfall will come, around 2.4in to 3.2in (60mm to 80mm) is likely to fall quite widely, with a chance of up to 5.9in (150mm) over high ground.

Rain will spread across Wales and northern England through the course of Christmas Day, reaching southern parts of Scotland during the early hours of Boxing Day, with prolonged spells forecast for south Cumbria.

The latest deluge will come as towns and villages across the county are still clearing up the aftermath of Storm Desmond earlier this month, which left hundreds of homes and businesses under water.

MeteoGroup forecaster Matt Martin said: "During the night the band of rain which has been affecting Ireland will push across Britain, and the winds will strengthen.

"We can expect three to six hours of heavy rain in Cumbria overnight and, looking further ahead, rain will be persistent there throughout the day on Christmas Day."

Environment Secretary Liz Truss chaired a meeting of the Government's Cobra committee on Wednesday.

She said: "We are doing all we can to support Cumbrian communities during this difficult time as we face unprecedented levels of rain and possible further flooding over Christmas as more rain falls on heavily saturated ground.

"I have huge sympathy for those affected - it's a terrible situation for already hard-hit communities and is tougher still because of the time of year.

"While it's too far out to predict precisely what the weather will do, we know there will be further storms on Boxing Day.

"People should continue to look at EA advice over the coming days as a clearer picture emerges."

The Cobra meeting was to ensure every resource available was being deployed in the right place, she said.

More than 700 Environment Agency staff are ready to respond to flooding, alongside armed forces personnel, with around 85% of the country's temporary flood barriers now in Cumbria as more sandbags are delivered to areas shown in the latest forecasts to be most at risk.

And more than 20 extra pumps are in the North of England, four of these high-volume pumps capable of moving one metric tonne of water per second.

Elsewhere, the EA said for the next three days along the River Severn in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Worcestershire and the River Ouse in York, there is a possibility of sections of roads being flooded, travel disruption and delays due to temporary flood defences being deployed.