After the floods – the search for some answers
Last updated at 09:07, Monday, 10 September 2012
THE painstaking process of finding the causes of last week’s devastating floods – and preventing such a crisis happening again – is under way.
Areas across Copeland were hit by torrential rain last Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, leaving homes and businesses flooded and causing misery for hundreds of residents.
Among the worst-hit areas were Egremont, St Bees, Seascale, Gosforth, Beckermet, Waberthwaite, Ravenglass and Whitehaven, plus a number of surrounding villages and hamlets.
A train bound for Sellafield was also derailed after a landslide close to St Bees.
A multi-agency response – led by Copeland Council and involving the Environment Agency, United Utilities and the Highway Agency among others – was launched to deal with the crisis.
Pat Graham, Copeland Council’s director of services and chair of the recovery coordination group, said: “We need to understand what has happened and stop it happening again.
“We are now gathering information from the affected properties, the Environment Agency is surveying culverts and becks, and the Highways Agency is surveying roads and bridges. All the information will then be pulled together, and only when we get these and answers will we look at what can be done in the future. We will keep people informed.
“But there aren’t any easy solutions – nothing can be done overnight as the scale of the flooding is so vast, and the rainfall was unprecedented.”
The Environment Agency revealed that during one 15-minute period on the night, rain was falling at a rate of 1mm per minute.
A spokeswoman added: “The intensity of the rainfall caused flash flooding and surface water flooding because the sheer volume of water unable to drain away quickly enough.”
Egremont was the worst-hit area, with around 50 properties, including those on the Orgill estate and at Church View in the town centre, flooded. Residents of 14 homes at Church View, many of whom were elderly, were evacuated around 4am to a respite centre quickly set up in the nearby Market Hall.
Many of the Orgill residents are tenants of Home Group. Twenty-four residents have had to leave their homes while repairs are carried out. Some are in hotels and others are staying with relatives.
The affected Church View properties belong to Two Castles, who are also supporting their residents in terms of alternative accommodation.
During the downpour, sandbags were delivered to residents of Orgill, including Croadella Avenue and its side streets of Dryden Way and Keats Drive.
A number of residents were critical, however, of the council’s response time.
Mrs Graham said: “We were out delivering sandbags from 2am to anyone who was asking for them.
“In extreme weather like this the situation can be unmanageable, it can be too late by the time we get there and the sandbags are no use.”
Council leader Elaine Woodburn, who was on the scene at Egremont throughout Wednesday night, added: “We had sandbags and buckets and you try to help the best you can, but you feel useless.
“There had been no flood warning. I have never seen it so bad. The water was getting into people’s houses, but it just wouldn't stop raining.”
The council has since filled two garages at Orgill with sand at the request of the community in case of further flooding, and support is available for residents from a range of organisations, says the council.
The first point of contact is the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) for those who have been affected by the floods and have issues regarding insurance or financial hardship or for legal advice. Telephone Whitehaven CAB on 01946 693321.
Residents may also be entitled to emergency food packages through the North Lakes Foodbank that provides food parcels for single people, couples and families who are in crisis.
Organisers say that although there has not been a rise in the number of those affected by the floods asking for food supplies over the past week, help is on hand.
Jessie Hendry, project coordinator, said: “The agencies that are supporting people in the floods will be able to offer various types of support, including giving vouchers for the Foodbank. We are here to help. Contact us to find out more.”
Vouchers can be gained through a host of organisations including, Howgill Family Centre, Children’s Services, Citizens Advice Bureau and Inspira (formerly Connexions).
Each package contains enough food for three days and people can receive up to three boxes of food. The distribution centre for Copeland is New Life Church, on Irish Street, Whitehaven.
For more information about the food packages, contact Jessie Hendry on 0750 2311452 or go to www.thefoodbank.org.
Copeland is also compiling a list of flood-hit properties and asks anyone who has been affected to call 0845 054 8600 or email info@copeland. gov.uk. The council is also taking away flood-damaged furniture from residents’ homes free of charge.
A road which was closed in the wake of the floods is not expected to reopen until September 14. The U4090 at Back Boonwood, Gosforth, is closed from its junction with the A595 – before the Red Admiral – to Mill House Farm. Access to Wasdale and Santon Bridge are not affected. Cumbria County Council has moved over 100 tons of stone and debris washed down onto the highway and is now installing a new culvert.
A second closed road – the B5345 between Middleton and St Bees – re-opened on Tuesday.
First published at 11:05, Thursday, 06 September 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
developers are one of the reason for floods so lets hope builders dont get permision to build at whinney hill cleator moor
Developers and turn their friends in the planning departments don't care, all they see are Â£Â£Â£Â£Â£ signs. When the problems they are warned about but choose to arrogantly ignore arise the problem is pushed elsewhere. Welcome to Copeland.
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