Storm Desmond: Liz Truss defends Government preparations

Liz Truss Defends Flood Preparations

Environment Secretary Liz Truss has defended the Government's flood preparations as people in areas ravaged by Storm Desmond begin trying to put their lives back together.

Power has been restored to the majority of the thousands of homes knocked out by serious weekend flooding in Lancashire and Cumbria, Electricity North West said today.

Homes and businesses in northern England and southern Scotland were left devastated by record rainfall, and the extreme weather which struck the Britain Isles, claiming three lives.

Mrs Truss defended the Government's preparedness, saying it was investing in flood defences and "there will be unexpected scenarios, there always are".

She told Good Morning Britain: "It is always difficult to judge when there might be an extreme event and what we do have to be is prepared.

"That is why as soon as we saw the weather forecast at the start of the weekend, we made sure the army was here, supporting people locally, we put in place cross-government Cobra and I am here ... to make sure that all the local people have all the support they need."

Electricity North West said this morning that engineers had restored power to all but 2,525 homes in Lancaster and 1,514 in Cumbria affected over the weekend.

Some 42,000 homes and businesses in Lancaster, Morecambe and Carnforth were left without power after "unforeseen flood damage" at a substation in Lancaster caused them to lose supply on Monday.

Some 19,000 customers in Lancaster were supplied by generators that were mobilised on Sunday night, and further generators were being mobilised overnight.

Mark Williamson, the firm's operations director, thanked customers for the "goodwill shown to staff "putting in a monumental effort working in shifts 24 hours a day to get the job done".

Cumbria Police said today its estimated worst-case scenario was as many as 6,425 homes were flooded in the county after Desmond struck.

The Environment Agency previously said more than 5,200 homes and businesses were flooded, with Prime Minister David Cameron visiting the worst-hit areas.

Virgin Trains said it is hopeful the main west coast rail route will be reopened by noon, after flood water north of Carlisle fell quicker than predicted.

Passengers have been warned of delays even if the line does reopen, with a 20mph restriction in place on part of the route.

The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for rain this week as northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland brace themselves for more heavy downpours.

A body thought to be that of an elderly man was discovered in the swollen River Kent in Cumbria, while Irish police recovered the body of Ivan Vaughan, 70, in Co Monaghan.

A 90-year-old man, Ernie Crouch, died after he was apparently blown into the side of a moving bus by strong winds near Finchley Central Tube station in London on Saturday.