Storm Desmond – Minister Says 3,500 Properties Flooded in Cumbria

The UK’s Environment secretary, Liz Truss, has confirmed that the flooding in Cumbria triggered by rainfall from Storm Desmond has damaged over 3,000 homes and businesses.

In a statement made in parliament, the Environment secretary said:

“…by Sunday morning over 3,500 properties had flooded across the country with the majority in Cumbria. In Carlisle over 2,000 properties flooded. Over 600 properties flooded in both Kendal and Keswick with over 200 in Appleby. Flooding was also seen in Northumberland with over 60 properties flooded at Hexham”.

“Heaviest Rain This Country Has Ever Recorded”

The UK Prime Minister visited the affected areas yesterday, and the Environment secretary is visiting today. During her visit she confirmed that the rainfall over the weekend had broken all previous records. She said, “This area had the heaviest rain this country has ever recorded, with some river levels rising half a metre higher than the previous record”.

She said that levels of the River Eden in Carlisle were half a metre higher than in 2005. River levels were 0.6m higher than previous records in Kendal, 0.7 of a metre higher in Keswick and 0.3 of a metre higher in Appleby.

Flood Defences

The UK Government has come in for some criticism regarding its flood defence planning and spending.

In response, the Environment secretary said that “the flood defences, which were built to the best available models have protected more than 11,500 homes.”

However, given the extreme amounts of rain and high river levels in Cumbria over the last few days, Liz Truss conceded that current models may no longer be relevant. She said that “in light of this weekend’s weather we will look again at the way we model extreme weather events”.

Floods in Carlisle, December 2015
Floods in Carlisle, Cumbria, England, December 2015. Photo: Cumbria Police

One Flood Death Confirmed in Ireland

Rainfall from Storm Desmond also affected parts of Ireland. Earlier today, the body of a man believed to have been swept away by flood water had been recovered by police in County Monaghan.

The victim was 70-year-old Ivan Vaughan, believed to be a singer and musician from Caledon in County Tyrone.

A Garda spokesman said it appeared his car got stuck in flooding and when he got out he was swept away. His body was found about 10 metres from his car.

Meanwhile some observers in Ireland are fearing that the worst of the flooding isn’t over yet.

Talking to the Irish Times, Galway County Council director of services, Liam Gavin said that the rivers Shannon, Suck, Clare and Dunkellin, and tributaries are continuing to absorb a month’s rainfall in a day, and “the next 24 hours will be crucial”. He added, “In some areas, it could be worse than it was six years ago [during the severe flooding of November 2009].”