Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Spelman praises flooding response

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman visited the North East of England following major flooding in the area
Mark Armstrong cleans the floor in Lanchester Hardware store after flooding in Lanchester, County Durham
Residents empty buckets of water from their homes in Hebburn (AP)

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has praised the response of the emergency services as she visited a flood-damaged home in the North East of England.

Ms Spelman was in Green Lane Gardens in Felling, Gateshead, which was engulfed by 5ft of water last week following torrential rain. She spent around 25 minutes surveying the scene and chatting to Phil and Ann Furbank whose house was severely damaged by the torrent.

Across the North East of England, home-owners, businesses and the insurance industry are continuing to count the cost of a major clean-up operation after freak storms hit the country. Hundreds of rail engineers are working to repair damaged tracks which disrupted services between England and Scotland.

The volume of rain that fell on Thursday submerged cars and flooded homes which were well away from rivers and streams.

Ms Spelman said: "I would really like to commiserate with the local community. I do know what it feels like to be flooded out of your home. And I want to praise the emergency services and local authority that swung into action with a pre-prepared plan."

She said members of the local community came together to help each other, adding:."That's what it takes in the face of one of these extreme weather events which we are seeing all too frequently."

She said there were no drains that could cope with a month's rainfall in just a few hours. It was very important that people listened out for flood warnings and also took out insurance, she said.

She told the BBC: "It's the Government's job to try to make sure that insurance is universally available and affordable, we are very close to an agreement with the insurance industry that will really take that forward into the future."

Northern Powergrid engineers have now restored power to all storm hit customers in the North East where access to their properties has been possible, said the company.

"Where access has not been possible, we intend to reconnect the properties to the electricity network tomorrow, subject to access being made available," Northern Powergrid said in a statement. "We would like to thank all our customers for their patience during this extraordinary weather event and apologise for any inconvenience they experienced."

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