Storm Eva set to bring Christmas misery to flood-hit Cumbria


More rain is due overnight in flood-hit Cumbria, where locals have been clearing up after the second deluge in three weeks.

Storm Eva has roared in across Ireland and western coasts of Britain bringing strong winds and heavy rain.

Towns and villages in Cumbria, still dealing with the aftermath of Storm Desmond earlier this month, were flooded for the third time in a month on Tuesday, with Glenridding, Keswick and Kendal all hit again.

In Appleby, the River Eden burst its banks once more, causing localised flooding in the low lying Sands area of the town.

A flood warning siren prompted dozens of local people to rush to help - before the stone bridge over the river was closed as a precaution.

Hundreds of staff from the Environment Agency (EA) are being used to help deal with the crisis, as well as troops who have been assisting since it began.

MeteoGroup forecaster Matt Martin said: "Eva has come in across Ireland and western coasts of Britain bringing rain and gusts of wind - there have been gusts of 75mph in Capel Curig in north Wales during the evening.

"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."

Martin Stephenson, a Cumbria county councillor for Appleby, said from the riverbank of the town: "We are not looking forward to the arrival of Eva, the next storm coming in on Christmas Day, having had two floods already.

"The first flood on the 5th of December was exceptional, it over-topped the defences. That was quite a blow.

"This second flood has been a normal flood. It is very prone to flooding, Appleby is noted for flooding, but normally just in the Sands area.

"Residents and businesses get used to the fact that flooding is a risk nearly all the time.

"Over the years they have built resilience to that. Even more resilience may need to be built into those areas looking forward.

"We had what was called a one-in-100-year flood two weeks ago. We seem to be getting far more of these severe floods. You then have to ask questions, do you need to do anything more?"

Sandbags and flood defence barriers stood in doorways while skips lined the main streets as council lorries cleared drains and gullies of debris damming water courses.

A low wall around 3ft high, built in 1995 and equipped with hydraulic gates to seal off the centre of the town, has prevented flooding many times, but could not prevent the deluge earlier this month, Mr Stephenson said.

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

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."

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

"The weather reports and river levels are constantly being updated and we are adjusting all of our plans to fit the most up to date information so we protect communities in the best possible way.

"We have over 700 Environment Agency staff ready to respond to flooding, alongside armed forces personnel, as we prepare for all potential scenarios.

"Around 85% of the country's temporary flood barriers are now in the county, many more sandbags are being delivered to areas shown in the latest forecasts to be most at risk.

"More than 20 extra pumps are in the north of England, four of these are high volume pumps capable of moving one metric tonne of water per second.

"EA staff are also working round the clock checking and maintaining flood defences, clearing blockages in watercourses and monitoring water levels.

"Our priority continues to be protecting lives, protecting homes and protecting businesses.

"The flood minister Rory Stewart is in Appleby from this morning to ensure the right help is getting through.

"When I visited the area last week I saw for myself the fantastic community spirit and the incredible work of high vis heroes on the frontline - that work continues.

"We have already put forward £60 million to help these communities get back on their feet since the floods first hit earlier this month - we will continue to do what it takes to keep people safe and help the area recover.

"In the longer term we have established the Cumbrian Floods Partnership to consider what more can be done to protect these towns and villages from future flooding.

"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."