Government 'stands squarely behind Storm Desmond victims'


The Government's pledge of £51 million for homes and businesses affected by recent floods shows it is "determined to stand squarely behind them", the Secretary of State for Communities has said.

During a visit to Appleby in Cumbria - one of the areas worst-hit by Storm Desmond over the weekend - Greg Clark said the announcement of a multimillion-pound package from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) would offer support in the months ahead.

The figure takes the total support from the Government to over £60 million.

Mr Clark, who met emergency services and council leaders in the area before visiting residents and businesses in Appleby, said the funding will help ensure families get back in their homes as quickly as possible and businesses return to trading.

He said: "As communities survey the damage caused by these floods and begin the difficult process of recovering, we're determined to stand squarely behind them and ensure the support needed is available."

He said he had witnessed first-hand the "hard work and dedication" of the community in striving to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

He said: "Today's £51 million Community and Business Recovery Scheme offers support in the weeks and months ahead. It ensures help is available to residents and businesses to get families back into their homes and businesses back trading again as quickly as possible."

Chancellor George Osborne said families will be able to claim up to £5,000 each to deal with the damage caused by Storm Desmond.

Funds will be distributed by local councils in an effort to overcome "administrative problems" that delayed payments in previous emergencies.

Cumbria County Council said the damage from the weekend's flooding was on a scale never seen before, with the situation changing hourly.

A spokesman said: "We're working as fast as we can with Army colleagues to assess the overall impact on our highways infrastructure. We'd ask the public to be patient as we try and get Cumbria moving again."

However, residents in the county are urged to remain vigilant as more rain is forecast on Wednesday night and into Thursday, bringing the potential for further disruption across Cumbria, as well as parts of Lancashire and North Yorkshire.

Throughout Cumbria, thousands of tonnes of debris has fallen on roads, carriageways and bridges in landslides due to the unprecedented amount of rainfall.

Appleby remains at risk of further flooding with limited vehicle access through the town, although rivers are not expected to return to levels reached last weekend.

Meanwhile in Glenridding and Patterdale - which were isolated for three days due to floor water - saw the military drafted in to deliver food and water.

The beauty spot, which is popular with walkers, was cut off after the A592 lakeside road was submerged in water, bringing ancient trees crashing down and breaking up the surface of a road.

Pooley Bridge, one of the main access routes into the village, collapsed on Sunday and remains closed. Witnesses described the water "jetting through" dry stone walling as it carried rubble in its path.

Business owner Jon Holdsworth, of Patterdale Hall Estate half-a-mile away, described the floods as "biblical" as he watched his camping and caravan business disappear under water.

Figures from a rain gauge at Honister in the Lake District showed a UK record 341mm of rain had fallen in 24 hours over the weekend.

The average rainfall for Cumbria for the month of December is 146.1mm, the Met Office said.

A total of 131 bridges remain closed having been identified as being of strategic importance and requiring immediate inspection.