PM to chair Cobra meeting as homes evacuated amid flooding

Prime Minister David Cameron will chair an emergency meeting after flooding caused Boxing Day misery across the north of England.

Hundreds of people in West Yorkshire and Lancashire were evacuated from their homes on Saturday and thousands were left without power after widespread flooding.

Dozens of severe flood warnings were still in place in Yorkshire and the North West but no further rain warnings were issued.

Mr Cameron said he will chair a conference call of the Government's emergency Cobra committee today. 

"My thoughts are with people whose homes have been flooded," he wrote on Twitter.

The Environment Agency (EA) issued 31 severe flood warnings on Saturday, signalling a risk to life, although many of the rivers involved were predicted to have reached peak levels.

Hundreds of flood warnings and alerts were still in place across England and Wales.

The Met Office was forecasting ice in parts of Scotland today but no further weather warnings were in place.

The River Aire, in Leeds, was predicted by the EA to have reached "record levels" at 11pm last night, with nine severe flood warnings in place.

Residents in York city centre, Huntington, Tang Hall, Osbaldwick and Foss Island were advised to start moving valuables to upper floors and to prepare to be evacuated.

The EA said pumps in the Foss Barrier were at risk of electrical failure due to water entering the building and a decision had been taken to lift the barrier.

York City Council said an emergency meeting had been held and the River Ouse was expected to peak at more than 5 yards above normal summer levels on Monday afternoon.

Record levels were also reached in the River Calder catchment area. The EA said river levels were now expected to fall but there was still an ongoing risk.

About 10,000 homes in Rochdale and Lancashire lost their electricity supply on Saturday after a main substation was damaged and another 3,000 homes in North and West Yorkshire were also without power.

Electricity North West warned that some properties may be without power until Monday.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes in Lancashire and Calderdale, West Yorkshire, as soldiers were drafted in to help with the flooding.

In Lancashire, the Fire and Rescue Service - which was forced to evacuate a flooded fire station in Padiham - said it had been called out to around 350 incidents and rescued 50 people during the floods on Boxing Day.

Todmorden, in Calderdale, was completely cut-off by flood waters and emergency services had to rescue a man from a car after he drove into deep flood water in Mytholmroyd.

Areas of Greater Manchester, including Salford, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale and Wigan, were badly affected by flooding, with more than 300 flood-related calls to the fire service in 24 hours.

A 200-year-old former pub, which sits on a bridge over the River Irwell, in Summerseat, Greater Manchester, was swept away in raging waters, while a gas explosion in Radcliffe was believed to have been caused by the flooding.

A pothole on the M62, which appeared between junctions 19 and 20 near Rochdale, closed the westbound carriageway and, in north Wales, some drivers were forced to abandon their waterlogged cars.

People were warned not to drive unless necessary and rail passengers in Yorkshire were also advised not to travel today, with multiple railways lines either closed or at risk of closure in the wake of the severe flooding.

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