STORM HAVOC: Storm Desmond leaves a trail of destruction across Lancashire

The cleanup operation has begun and the extent of the devastating flooding over the weekend is now being revealed.

Monday, 7th December 2015, 6:10 am
Brockholes and Guild Wheel under water

Fire crews from across the county and beyond have been working around the clock to deal with hundreds of incidents in the wake of Storm Desmond.

A spokesperson for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said on Sunday morning after the worst of the weather: “In the last 24 hours we’ve had approximately 300 calls, and we’ve attended probably 200 incidents.”

People were trapped in their vehicles stuck in floods; fire engines and army vehicles took patients to hospital; homes and businesses were flooded; and nursing home residents were rescued as the county was battered by gale force winds and heavy rains.

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Under water: Lancaster city centre

The list of incidents is endless.

The spokesperson said: “In some places where ambulances couldn’t get through, fire engines were taking casualties to hospital.

“In Lancaster, firefighters had two boats which were transferring people through flooding from one side to the other in an emergency.

“There was a person floating in the floods seen holding onto a wheelie bin in Caton Street. That whole area was flooded.”

He added that West Yorkshire Fire Service provided a boat and about 10 firefighters. Firefighters from areas including Lancaster, Nelson, Blackpool, Fleetwood, Preston and Chorley helped out.

Two people were rescued from a nursing home in Garstang and even the fire service did not escape.

“Lancaster Fire Station is flooded,” said the spokesperson. “Our firefighters at Lancaster are working out of Forton service station at the moment. And there are power outages at other fire stations, including Morecambe, and we’ve got generators set up there.”

The north of the county bore the brunt of the chaos. More than 50,000 homes in and around Lancaster were left without power and mobile phone networks were cut off.

Elsewhere, the River Ribble, which was under an Environment Agency flood warning at Samlesbury, burst its banks.

Last night, 18 field staff from the Environment Agency were called to a severe flood warning for the River Wyre in St Michael’s. They were assisted by three fire engines and a boat amid concerns of another breach.

In Wyre, Kirkland Village Hall was flooded and even a fire engine had to be rescued out of the flooded A586.

On Saturday, parts of the Guild Wheel were closed and Brockholes Nature Reserve, next to the M6 at Samlesbury, had to close for the day due to a flood warning for the nearby River Ribble. The road to the popular visitor centre was completely underwater.

Sarah Leach, entertainments and communications manager for Brockholes, said: “It’s where you drive in at the bottom of our reserve. It’s like a low point on the river and the water’s come across the road.

“We’re on the Environment Agency’s red flood warning. Once people are in, when it floods you can’t get them out.”

She said some people had turned up to visit on Saturday, only to be turned away.

The Crafty Vintage Late Night Markets at the reserve was also a victim of the weather as it too had to close for Saturday.

The 2015 Ribble Valley Christmas Fair at Hawkshaw Farm, Clayton-le-Dale, which opened on Friday had to cancel for the weekend.

The fair was to showcase more than 50 top small business owners from the Lancashire area.

In Preston on Saturday morning, Eastway was closed at Watling Street Road and there was a large flood outside St Clare’s Catholic Primary School, Sharoe Green Lane, Fulwood.

Firefighters dealt with flooding on Garstang Road, Preston, after receiving a call at around 10.50am, and they attended an incident on Woodplumpton Road, Preston.

Part of the Guild Wheel 21-mile cycle path around the city was closed due to flooding. The Garstang Basin was operated and filled to relieve pressure on River Wyre to protect Garstang and St Michael’s.

The University of Lancaster cancelled teaching this week until the end of term after losing its electricity supply.

There were no pans to cancel the postgraduate degree ceremonies.

Figures showed that more than 340mm of rain could have fallen in 24 hours in the Lake District - which would be a new British record.

The Met Office regional forecast for the week is for rain this morning and further heavy rain this evening. Windy, with coastal gales.

Further wet and windy weather is likely on Wednesday.

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