Fight against flood waters

The swollen River Ribble at Avenham, Preston at the weekend
The swollen River Ribble at Avenham, Preston at the weekend
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Firefighters have pumped enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool away from homes in a Lancashire village after heavy rain.

Crews were called to Hest Bank Lane in Hest Bank, near Morecambe, at 5pm on Sunday afternoon after flood waters began to threaten homes.

They used a high-volume pump, which pumps 10,000 litres of water every minute, to move the water into a canal one-and-a-half miles away.

Watch manager Keith Armstrong, of Chorley fire station which operates the pump, said crews were in the village throughout Sunday night and would remain there on Monday morning.

He said: “There has been a historic problem with flooding in Hest Bank and last time I am told it caused nearly £40m of damage.

“The flood plain there has become saturated with the heavy rainfall and it cannot hold any more water.

“When we arrived there were some cellars flooded but we managed to get in there and start pumping it away before it caused any real damage.”

On Sunday night, the Environment Agency also placed new flood alerts, urging people to be prepared for possible flooding, on the upper Rivers Ribble and Hodder between Settle in Cumbria and Samlesbury, near Preston.

There were also alerts placed on the upper Rivers Wyre, Calder and Brock between Abbeystead, near Lancaster and Catterall, and the Rivers Lune, Conder and Keer between Galgate, near Lancaster and Gressingham in the Trough of Bowland.

The West Coast Main Line between Lancaster and Carlisle, Cumbria was shut early Monday morning due to flooding on the line before reopening at 9am with delays of more than an hour.

Alerts on other rivers in the county were lifted over the weekend although the Environment Agency said it was “keeping a close eye on levels” with more rain hitting the county on Monday morning.

The Met Office had issued a ‘be prepared’ yellow warning for the entire county before downgrading over the weekend to just northern and eastern parts.

It said rain and winds would be “widespread” on Monday although are expected to improve by the evening.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “We will be keeping a close eye on the rain heading our way and if necessary flood alerts and warnings will be issued.

“We are urging people to remain flood aware.”

Fourteen flood alerts remained in place in the North West on Monday with two flood warnings in Kendal, Cumbria, urging people to take action.

An alert placed on low-lying areas of Blackpool was lifted on Sunday night.

A spokesman for weather forecasters MeteoGroup said New Year’s Eve revellers in England and Wales could expect the rain to ease up on Monday evening.

He said: “On the big evening itself it looks like many parts of England and Wales will have a dry evening by the time it gets to midnight.

“But, in Scotland and for the North it will be windy with heavy showers.”

Forecasters have said 2012 could become the wettest on record in the UK.

According to the Met office just 1.8 inches of rain is needed to fall before December 31 to make this year the wettest on record for the UK overall, with a new record already set for England with 43.1 inches falling until Boxing Day.