Scotland now on the receiving end as Storm Frank wreaks more mayhem


Hundreds of homes have been evacuated and thousands are without power after Storm Frank battered the UK with heavy rain and high winds.

Residents in Scotland were the latest to endure the misery of being forced from their homes by foul weather as the third named storm in a month to hit the country, causing widespread disruption.

Further torrential rain also hit the saturated north of England with people in Croston in Lancashire earlier urged to immediately evacuate their homes.

The chairman of the Environment Agency (EA) Sir Philip Dilley has been visiting flood victims in Yorkshire, after he returned from a Christmas holiday to Barbados amid criticism at the timing of his break during some of the worst storms in decades.

There have been three severe flood warnings in place all day at Croston, and a further two in Scotland on the River Tweed in Peebles and in Dumfries.

In Ballater, Aberdeenshire, residents from Anderson Road, Deebank Road and Albert Road have been evacuated and a rest centre set up at the Victoria Barracks and nearby Aboyne Academy.

Police Scotland said 10 passengers had to be airlifted from a bus which became stuck in floodwater near Dailly cemetery in South Ayrshire.

In England and Wales, more than 40 flood warnings and over 100 lower level flood alerts are in force.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland 300 homes are without power after thousands were cut off overnight, while more than 5,500 homes in Scotland remain in black out with engineers hampered by conditions.

South of the border, Western Power Distribution has reconnected more than 20,000 homes in the Midlands, South West and Wales with about 900 still off the grid.

Transport links also suffered after Frank rolled in from the Atlantic, with high winds shutting the Clifton Suspension Bridge for only the second time in its 151-year-old history before it was reopened around lunchtime.

Roads have been flooded including a stretch of the M4 motorway near Cardiff, while the torrent of rain also caused a landslip at Rest & Be Thankful in Argyll Scotland closing the A83.

The storm also took its toll on the Grade-II listed Victorian Birnbeck Pier in Weston-super-Mare in North Somerset, which partially collapsed in the high winds.

Gusts of up to 55 knots, or about 63 mph, disrupted flights in and out of Belfast International Airport where planes had to be held or diverted.

In Fleetwood in Lancashire a person was rescued from the water near Marine Hall by police.

And an elderly couple were rescued from a car stuck in flood water in Sparkwell, Devon, while a female driver was safely removed from a stricken car in Stoke St Gregory in Somerset.

The Irish Coast Guard said it had winched an injured Spanish fisherman to safety 120 nautical miles off Mizen Head in Ireland after rough seas threw him about aboard his UK-registered trawler.

Gales have also brought down trees and blown debris into power lines, causing havoc.

A Western Power Distribution spokesman said they had one report from Gloucestershire of a trampoline being blown into electricity cables.

Lisa Pinney, an Environment Agency spokesman, said river levels had been falling but the renewed rainfall increased the risk of renewed flooding in already saturated areas like Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire.

She added that persistent rainfall in Wales meant there was also now a chance of flooding in the west and south west of England.

Ms Pinney, a flood manager, said: "We're expecting more rain today and into the late afternoon, so we're encouraging people to be aware.

"Based on the forecast we've had, we're not expecting to see scenes like we've had over the past few days and not see flood defence over-topping, for example.

"But we're aware the ground across the north of England is absolutely saturated. We're not complacent."

Earlier, EA chairman Sir Philip, returning from his holiday, spoke briefly to reporters outside his flat in Marylebone in London saying he would be visiting Yorkshire later, and would be "very happy to speak" with people when he got there.

The timing of his Caribbean break had been criticised, although the EA pointed out he had visited flood victims in Cumbria earlier this month.

An agency spokesman said Sir Philip had been in "regular contact" with the organisation regarding its response to the current situation.

The agency later confirmed he had visited Yorkshire.

Yesterday night, soldiers evacuated homes around the storm-battered 18th century Tadcaster bridge in North Yorkshire, after it partially collapsed, prompting fears of flooding and a possible gas explosion.

Meanwhile, in York, police condemned thieves who looted homes submerged in dirty water.

North Yorkshire Police's Acting Superintendent Mark Grange said: "It is impossible to comprehend why anyone would want to bring further suffering to those who are already in a very vulnerable situation."

Earlier today, a 40-year-old was arrested on suspicion of theft in Mytholmroyd, following reports of suspicious activity around flooded homes West Yorkshire Police said.

The force said there was a continued police presence in the town along with Todmorden and Hebden Bridge, where the clean-up is continuing.

In many areas the ground is still saturated from previous downpours and river levels remain at record highs.

Although the floodwaters have been receding, across the North, more than 6,700 homes have flooded in the past week.