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77 flood warnings in place across northern England as heavy rain persists

Further deluges of rain lashed the north of England today as river levels remained high across several counties.

The Met Office had issued a yellow weather warning, and a spokesman said that although the forecaster was not expecting floods as severe as those seen last weekend it would not take "an awful lot of rain" for there to be a risk of rivers overflowing.

By 6pm there were 77 flood warnings in place across the region, although no severe flood warnings which are classed as a "danger to life".

Affected areas included large parts of East Lancashire including Pendle, the Ribble Valley and Burnley, and large areas of West Yorkshire including Leeds, Dewsbury, Batley, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden and Cleckheaton.

Elsewhere, flood warnings were also issued in Preston, York and Rochdale.

Localised flooding of roads continued to take place in Cumbria which bore the brunt of Storm Desmond and led to the flooding of thousands of homes.

Snow also brought hazardous driving conditions on the M6 at Shap and sections of the A66 and A6.

In Carlisle, soldiers from the 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster's Regiment will assist city council staff in carrying out an overnight clean-up of ruined furniture dumped outside homes in the Warwick Road area.

World boxing champion Amir Khan brought welcome relief to that community when he led volunteers from his foundation and the international humanitarian charity Penny Appeal in giving practical support.

The teams served hot meals at at local community centre, handed out toys and Christmas presents to children and delivered food parcels.

Khan, 29, said: "It's very sad to see that people have had to leave their homes and all the furniture has been taken out of their houses and the floods have destroyed all the homes, the kids' toys and everything else.

"I just want to come here and give kids some new toys and bring moral support really.

"It's right on my doorstep, I live in England, that is one of the reasons why I wanted to come and show my support. I do a lot of help around the world helping the needy and I thought why not England where I live."

Electricity North West said about 400 properties in Cumbria remain without power due to last weekend's flood damage, with its engineers continuing to carry out door-to-door safety checks.

Floods Minister Rory Stewart today visited Kendal where it is thought about 1,400 homes have been flooded.

He dropped in to Sandylands Methodist Church which has acted as a flood recovery centre for the local community.

The Rev Jonny Gios said: "The purpose of my bringing Rory here today was to highlight the issues and that we don't get forgotten as a town, and to help push for Government money to get back on our feet.

He spoke of fears of "a fragmented community" with the local Spar store next door - described as a meeting place in itself - set to be closed for the next six months.

He said: "What we need to do is build the community back up."

Mr Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border, was told that housing was a major concern as the Rev Gios told him: "People are sofa surfing at the moment. They are in Travelodges and are being told you need to be out next week."

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, also attended the meeting and echoed the problems of homelessness in the town.

He said: "The number of people who are seeking housing and are in a homeless situation is about 100 and rising by the day. As the week goes by, people who have made temporary arrangements find that suddenly ceases to be.

"What do people need immediately? It's money, the council needs money, local people need money in order to pay for a vareity of things which includes housing."

He said he would renew his call next week for the Government to apply for a grant from the EU's Solidarity Fund, which was set up to provide financial assistance to EU countries struck by major natural disasters.

The Environment Agency issued a severe flood warning for the west Lancashire village of St Michaels, which lies on the River Wyre.

Many householders were forced to leave their homes earlier this week in the already-flood-affected village.

Work has been continuing to temporarily fix the breached defences with sandbags and clay but further downpours have halted that progress.

On its website, the Environment Agency stated: "Earlier this week we repaired breaches in the embankment on the River Brock upstream of St Michaels.

"Due to the temporary nature of the repairs and increased river levels we are concerned about the stability of the embankment. Police and the fire brigade may need to evacuate residents for their safety."

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