Flood-hit Cumbria prepares for more rain and potential flooding


Flood-hit Cumbria is preparing for a second weekend of potential flooding as more rain is expected to hit the north of England.

Although only 1.5in of rain is forecast for the affected areas in Cumbria today, there is still a risk of localised flooding because of raised water levels, the Met Office has said.

River levels in the county remain high, with floods having deluged homes and businesses for five days after Storm Desmond.

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning, and a spokesman said that although the forecaster is not expecting floods as severe as those seen last weekend, it would not take "an awful lot of rain" for there to be a risk of rivers overflowing.

The spokesman said the rain is expected to fall from around 7am this morning to mid-afternoon, and added that there would be patchy rain later tomorrow of about 3-5mm.

Chris Wilding, the Environment Agency's flood duty manager, said: "River levels are high and the ground is saturated after the exceptional rainfall from Storm Desmond and rain this week, so we continue to ask people to remain vigilant with further rainfall expected this weekend."

The affected areas include Carlisle, Keswick, Kendal, Cockermouth, Appleby and Glenridding, along with St Michael's in Lancashire.

The latest threat to beleaguered residents comes as Amir Khan, the two-time world champion boxer, said he will provide moral and practical support to those affected by the flooding.

Mr Khan is leading a joint operation with his Amir Khan Foundation and humanitarian charity Penny Appeal, and plans to visit Carlisle today.

He said: "The UK community has been so supportive of me and this is just a small way I can give back. Once the flood water disappears, the hard work really starts, as families, most with children, return to severely damaged homes and destroyed possessions.

"It's important that we come together, as British people do at times like this, and remind those affected that they're not alone in dealing with this crisis."

In Keswick the clean-up operation continued yesterday with help from the Army, who had spent the past five days in Carlisle.

The flood-ravaged market town, which saw the River Greta burst its banks, had 100 service personnel from 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster's Regiment knocking on doors ensuring people were safe and offering help.

Some 200 homes were flooded and 600 people in the town were forced to abandon properties, some for the third time in 10 years.

But retailers in Keswick declared they were open for business and determined to get back to normality despite a trail of destruction - and a bill of millions of pounds.

The Taste Cumbria event began in Cockermouth yesterday evening with a lantern parade and will continue with a food festival over the weekend.

Cumbria's multi-agency Strategic Recovery Co-ordination Group said it had moved "into top gear" with plans to get the county back up and running as quickly as possible.

The group, chaired by the county council, brings together district councils, the Environment Agency, police, health agencies, Lake District National Park authorities, Cumbria Community Foundation, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and central government representatives.

Diane Wood, chief executive of Cumbria County Council, said: "Cumbria has bounced back from situations like this before and we'll do it again. We've got everyone round the table, we have a clear plan and we're now starting the long road to recovery.

"I want to be clear that while there's a lot to do, Cumbria is very much up and open for business. I have no doubt that with the resilience and resourcefulness of the Cumbria communities we'll emerge from this even stronger."