Lancashire residents count cost of floods

A driver braves the floods on Longmoor Lane near Garstang
A driver braves the floods on Longmoor Lane near Garstang
  • Record rainfall brings flash flooding and chaos to region
  • 70 people rescued in North Lancashire
  • Lancashire-wide clean-up continues
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A record level of rainfall, unprecedented in recent decades, once again saw communities across Lancashire engaged in mass mopping up operations.

READ MORE: Clean-up continues after a night of flooding in Lancashire

Torrential downpours on Wednesday caused waterlogged homes, major road and school closures, hundreds of emergency call-outs and power supply failures.

Areas across Wyre, Lancaster and Galgate were among the worst affected but flash floods were widespread across the county.

United Utilities said rainfall had reached “unprecedented levels”.

Meanwhile, one weather station located close to Lancaster University registered its highest amount over a 24 hour period for 50 years.

The kitchen and front room are devastated. We have lost everything.

Forecasters have said respite is on its way with significant rain not predicted in the next 24 hours.

But the flash floods will have caused residents to recount harrowing memories of the impact of Storm Desmond in 2015 which caused devastating damage to thousands of homes.

Emergency services, lead agencies and local authorities said efforts were continuing throughout Thursday to clear the flood water.

County Coun Keith Iddon said: “My sympathies go out to everyone affected by the flooding.

A car is recovered from under the motorway bridge

A car is recovered from under the motorway bridge

“The problems were caused by the sheer volume of rainwater.

“Our out of hours teams across the county, include drivers on standby for gritting duties, spent all night assisting the emergency services, clearing drains and culverts, putting out warning signs and delivering sandbags.

“We had other staff out on Thursday assessing damage to our highways, clearing any debris left on roads or washed into drains, as well as visiting affecting residents to offer support and advice.”

In Galgate, water reached two foot high in some properties.

Flooding on the Fylde Coast.  Preston New Road outside the fracking site.

Flooding on the Fylde Coast. Preston New Road outside the fracking site.

Resident Claire Coultas said: “I went to the shop at about 9.20pm and I was joking about the water but by the time I got back in the space of about 10 minutes it was up to the window ledge.

“The kitchen and front room are devastated. We have lost everything.”

Several flood warnings and alerts remained in place throughout Thursday with rail services affected. The Environment Agency said its staff are carrying out checks amid concern blocked or uncleared drains are exacerbating flooding problems.

Flood manager Jim Ratcliffe said: “The last 48 hours has shown how quickly river catchments in Lancashire react – which is why it is important for us all to act early.

“Over 24 hours in Lancashire the average recorded rainfall was 55mm, with 100mm being recorded in North Lancashire. We have seen the effects of flooding and have the Flood Support Officers on the ground supporting communities.

“Our teams continue to carry out routine grid checks and clear trash screens.

“We are checking our pumping stations and investigating reports of blockages and flooding. We have teams out inspecting flood defences. I would advise people, if they haven’t done so already, to sign up for free flood warnings and check their flood risk on GOV.UK.”

A Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service statement read: “Thankfully, the Met Office has forecast an improving picture over the next 24 hours with only 5-10mm of rain predicted to fall and river levels too are set to reduce.

“We have pumping out water in Galgate, Lancaster, Blackpool and Wyre.

“We estimate that there were around 120 premises which flooded overnight across the county.

“The Police also report that there is an improving picture with regards to roads reopening and other highway issues are being managed locally.

“However, we would like to take the opportunity to remind members of the public to avoid driving through any floodwater which may still be affecting some roads.”

Anger over blocked drains

Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said: “On the 4th October I wrote to @LancashireCC expressing concerns over blocked drains and was promised a reply within six weeks. That’s passed and I’ve heard nothing and observe drains blocked throughout Lancaster and Fleetwood. I’m angry tonight.”

‘Flooding is a natural event’

Yingkui Zhao, senior lecturer at UCLan and hydrology expert, said Lancashire and Northern England is experiencing the impact of climate change and local authorities need to take this into consideration in future planning policies.

He said: “Flooding is a natural event, of course, but the damage caused by flooding is getting worse.

“The climate is changing all the time and we cannot expect it to remain stable. The amount of rainfall we are seeing in recent years is showing the effect of climate change on a global scale.

“How we cope with that is another issue.

“With climate change causing more rainfall and river systems coping with greater amounts, careful consideration needs to be given to the amount of development on flood plains and whether that development can be moved to somewhere more appropriate.”

Mr Zhao added that flood defences and barriers can in some cases cause problems to be transferred downstream, as has occurred on areas along the River Thames in recent years.

He said: “Flood barriers are not necessarily the answer, they can divert the problem.

“It’s on both sides, local government can ensure less development on flood plains and on the other hand we must cope with the fact that, due to climate change, more water is coming down into the system.”

Icy conditions in prospect

Met Office meteorologist Emma Sharples said a period of respite was on the way although icy temperatures could start to cause problems if standing water remains in place.

She told the Lancashire Post: “Over the next few days there’s nothing to cause concern in terms of heavy rainfall with a chance of showers at the weekend.

“On Monday morning there could be (some rainfall) but it all appears to be moving quite quickly. After that the emphasis will change to frost and icy conditions in places, which could be an issue if the flood water remains.”