Rainstorm moves north as region braces for more chaos

7:00am Monday 26th November 2012

By Joe Willis

THE region is bracing itself for more flooding today after a weekend of torrential rain caused misery and chaos for communities and motorists.

Forecasters predicted widespread flooding with up three inches of rain expected to fall on the North-East and North Yorkshire in 24 hours as the bad weather moves north.

The low pressure area is expected to linger over the region for more than 24 hours - leaving hundreds of homes and roads at risk of flooding.

This morning the Environment Agency declared the unrelenting downpours a national emergency and said the country was facing a floods crisis.

It comes after heavy rain, which began on Saturday afternoon and continued throughout Sunday, caused flooding to scores of homes, closed major transport routes and forced numerous motorists to abandon their vehicles.

Nationally, high winds and torrential rain left one person dead and flooded more than 800 homes.

For the second time in a month, the A66 was closed between Darlington and Middlesbrough yesterday, with the eastbound carriageway expected to remain shut all night.

In North Yorkshire, firefighters were called out to pump water from more than 30 properties in separate incidents across the county.

The worst affected areas included South Kilvington and Sessay, near Thirsk, and Carperby, near Leyburn.

A man was rescued by another man after falling into a stream and getting trapped under a waterfall yesterday afternoon at Boghole Bank, Thimbleby, near Northallerton.

Both men were helped to safety from the stream bank by firefighters and paramedics, before being taken to hospital by ambulance suffering from suspected hypothermia.

Several hours later, firefighters were called to rescue a canoeist who had lost his canoe and become trapped on an island in the middle of the River Ure, near Aysgarth Falls, Leyburn.

As crews set-up rescue equipment, the man’s friends used ropes to rescue him, before getting back in their canoes and carrying on down the swollen river.

Cleveland Police said last night that the A66 Eastbound at Long Newton was likely to remain closed overnight.

A spokeswoman added: “The A689 at Wynyard towards Hartlepool also remains closed, while other roads are being assessed, however most roads are now passable with care.

“We are advising people to leave extra time for their journeys, particularly on Monday morning, and check local media outlets for information for any road closures in place.”

The A19 at Seaham, in County Durham, and the northbound slip road to the A690, Durham City junction, were temporarily closed yesterday so flood water could be pumped away.

On the East Coast Main Line, flooding caused delays of up to 45 minutes for train passengers.

With the ground saturated and rivers and streams poised to burst their banks, the Met Office issued an amber warning - the second highest - for much of the region yesterday, advising residents to be prepared.

The Environment Agency for Yorkshire and the North-East issued 30 flood alerts - also calling on people to be prepared for flooding – and 24 flood warnings - where flooding is expected. It said it expected to be issuing more warnings and alerts today.

Among the areas to receive warnings were homes surrounding Brompton Beck at Brompton, near Northallerton, where the river was threatening homes at Water End, Cockpit Hill, Station Road and the school.

Emergency teams from the Environment Agency worked over the weekend to monitor river levels, clear blockages from watercourses and operate pumping stations to try to manage river levels.

Phil Younge, flood risk manager at the agency, said: “Our teams have been out around the clock over the last few days to minimise the risks and prepare for flooding. We are continuing to deploy teams across the country to warn communities at risk.

“You can sign up for flood warnings and check the latest information on the Environment Agency’s website, where we also have information on how to prepare for flooding. Or call our Floodline on 0845-988-1188.”

Martin Weiler, a national spokesman for the Environment Agency, said: "This is now very much a national flood crisis.
"The scale of this event and these continual events, all summer and now again into the autumn, means the ground is just saturated. The rivers are full and there's nowhere for the water to go."

A 21-year-old woman became the second victim to die as a result of this week's weather after she was killed in Exeter after becoming trapped under a fallen spruce tree which injured two others.

It followed the death of a man on Thursday, who died when his car became wedged under a bridge near a ford in Rectory Fields, Chew Stoke, Somerset.

The flooding prompted the Prime Minister to take to Twitter to promise help.

Mr Cameron said: “Shocking scenes of flooding in Cornwall and around the country.

“Govt will help ensure everything is being done to help.”

One severe flood warning - the highest alert possible - remained in place last night for the River Cober in Helston, Cornwall. At one point over the weekend, four were in place.

It was claimed at the weekend that the three-day closure of the A1 in North Yorkshire last month cost the UK economy more than £250m.

People can get the latest flooding information from the Environment Agency website - environment-agency.gov.uk/flood

* Are you affected? Email the newsdesk at: newsdesk@nne.co.uk

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