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Second clean-up takes place as Cumbrian village flooded again

Published 10/12/2015

Jon Holdsworth of Patterdale Hall Estate inspects flood damage outside the estate, near the village of Glenridding in Cumbria
Jon Holdsworth of Patterdale Hall Estate inspects flood damage outside the estate, near the village of Glenridding in Cumbria

A second clean-up operation has taken place in the Cumbrian village of Glenridding which was flooded again after the weekend deluge cut it off from the world for three days.

It is thought that approximately 50mm of rain fell there on Wednesday and that eight properties and the basement of a hotel were flooded for the second time within a week.

Residents were forced to form a human chain to help evacuate people as the Glennridding Beck burst its banks with torrential rain sweeping down the fells at around 7pm.

Some sense of normality had only just begun returning to the picturesque village thanks to dozens of volunteers who had pitched in during the first clean-up.

Local farmer Joe Taylforth said he witnessed "folk holding hands" as they attempted to get out of their flood-ridden homes and businesses next to the river.

Mandy Howard-Carter, 35, said her quick-thinking husband, Ali, who used to be in the Mountain Rescue service, fetched a rope and fed it across the bridge to help villagers wade through the knee-deep water.

Police, Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service and the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team were in the village throughout the night providing support and help to residents.

Superintendent Justin Bibby said: "As part of the multi-agency response to this week's flooding across Cumbria, we were set to respond to the further heavy rainfall predicted for last night.

"I am pleased to say that the response was quick to last night's flooding and multi-agency partners were able to reassure the community of Glenridding that everything was in place, and being done, to ensure their safety throughout the operation."

Many villagers felt as though they were back to square one after Glenridding Beck was dredged of rubble - the result of a landslide - only to see it fill back up but the resolve to return to normality remains strong.

Volunteers driving tractors remain a constant in Glenridding, as do those on foot, going to and fro to provide food and water, while others shovel away debris.

Amid the chaos, Chorley couple Simon and Yvette Holden braved the weather, with their guests, to tie the knot today.

The groom, an IT analyst, 44, admitted he was "hoping and praying" that things would run smoothly having arrived at the Inn on the Lake on Wednesday as the rain resumed and roads into the village were closed off.

His bride, a 34-year-old membership services co-ordinator for the National Federation of Builders, said they would be spending their first full day as husband and wife helping out residents and "doing what they could".

They said the vast majority of guests got to the wedding on time despite initial worries that the roads would be impassable.

Mrs Holden said watching the rescue efforts was heartbreaking, describing the scene outside as "bedlam".

She said: "We got here and everything was okay and then it started raining. All night I was worried about it not being able to go ahead today. Tomorrow we will do whatever we can. When I saw all the pictures and videos I felt guilty."

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hailed the emergency services and the community spirit as he visited flooded-out homeowners and businesses in Cumbria.

He received a warm welcome from locals who thanked him for visiting as he spent more than an hour going from shop to shop on the high street in Cockermouth.

Normally busy with tourists, the street is now lined with skips and builders' vans, with fridges, sandbags, printers and shop fittings piled up on the pavement.

Mr Corbyn said better flood defences were needed, but global warming and cuts to emergency services also needed to be looked at.

Five fire stations in Cumbria are set to close in the latest round of measures to save money, according to local firemen who joined him on the visit.

Mr Corbyn said: "We obviously need better flood defences, they did help, they did reduce the damage but they didn't stop it altogether. So clearly cuts in flood defence programmes are not helpful.

"We can't go on cutting the fire service and expecting them to do more and more."

Speaking in Carlisle - where Mr Corbyn also visited - the leader of Cumbria County Council, Stewart Young, said pledged financial aid from Government to flood-affected homes and businesses - totalling more than £60 million - was a "good start".

But Mr Young added: "The infrastructure is a whole different ball game. Obviously there are places we can't even get to assess the damage because the water levels have not receded sufficiently but from what we know so far we are talking about hundreds of millions of pounds."

Figures from a rain gauge at Honister in the Lake District showed a UK record 341mm of rain had fallen in 24 hours over the weekend.

The average rainfall for Cumbria for the month of December is 146.1mm, the Met Office said.

Engineers from Electricity North West are set to complete repairs later today to up to 1,000 properties in Cumbria still without power, said the firm.

The multi-agency group set up in response to the floods in Cumbria has formally entered the "recovery stage" after damage to more than 6,000 properties, police said.

The group consisted of the emergency services, the military, partner agencies and voluntary organisations, including mountain rescue teams.

A similar group led by Cumbria County Council will handle the recovery.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Darren Martland, chairman of the multi-agency group, said: "The flooding experienced across Cumbria this week has been to an unprecedented level, with the majority of the county left victim to heavy rainfall. This has led to millions of pounds worth of damage which will take a long period of time for the county to recover from.

"I am proud of the work that all the agencies involved in this response have conducted during the extreme conditions. The response was excellent in ensuring that as many people were kept safe and reassured as possible. The men and women who were part of this response worked very long hours in extreme circumstances and every single one of them did so with the safety of the public as their first priority.

"In Cumbria a great deal of emphasis is placed on effective partnership working in order to provide the best possible service to the public. This week provides proof of how imperative this can be in responding to incidents as extraordinary as this.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the public for their patience and support they have shown during this period. The community spirit witnessed has been inspiring and highlights the true resilience of this county."

Diane Wood, chief executive of Cumbria County Council, said: "This week has seen exceptional weather, exceptional destruction and an exceptional response from organisations and communities across Cumbria. We've seen flooding before, but the scale and impact of what has happened is still only just becoming fully apparent.

"What is clear is that the work of agencies in responding to events, keeping people safe and helping them to begin rebuilding has been outstanding. I know first-hand that county council staff have gone above and beyond to help.

"What has been equally clear is the strength and resilience of Cumbrian communities, there have been so many examples of communities stepping up and supporting one another.

"It's true that the worst of circumstances can bring out the best in people."

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