November 20th, 2009

Floods in United Kingdom

Posted at 11:14 AM ET

uk-floods-small-112009Heavy rain has triggered floods across northern England, southern Scotland and Wales this week, inundating hundreds of homes and businesses and causing widespread damage and disruption. The Environment Agency (EA) currently has 4 severe flood warnings and a further 28 flood warnings in place in northeast and northwest England, Wales and the Midlands following the heavy rainfall. The EA severe flood warnings are located in northwest regions of England (for the River Greta, River Eamont and River Cocker). Reports said Cumbria County in northwest England bore the brunt of the floods as rivers swelled.

In Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has nine severe flood warnings and ten flood warnings in place. The Met Office has also issued severe weather warnings, saying up to 250 millimeters (9.8 inches) of rain may have fallen over higher ground.

uk-floods-big-112009

Reports said hundreds of properties have been flooded and evacuations have taken place as a month’s rainfall fell in 24 hours in some regions. In Cumbria, rainfall accumulations of 314 millimeters (12.4 inches) were recorded in the town of Seathwaite over a 24 hour period, equivalent to a month’s rain. The EA said the floods have affected hundreds of properties in the affected regions, with some reports saying at least 960 homes have been flooded. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said it was too early to say how much the floods would cost the industry.
In the Cumbrian town of Cockermouth alone, the EA said 500 homes could be flooded after flood defences were breached. The rising floodwaters also forced around 200 residents in Cockermouth to evacuate their homes after water levels reportedly reached around 2.5 meters (8.2 feet). Evacuations have also been reported elsewhere in Cumbria, including the towns of Keswick and Kendal. Reports said Royal Air Force (RAF) helicopters airlifted at least 50 people to safety in the Cockermouth area, with some forced to break through the roofs of their houses.

According to the EA, Cumbria was the worst affected region, and it described the situation there as “very serious”. Cumbria police say one of its officers is missing after a bridge collapsed over a flooded river in Workington. At least three bridges in the region are reported to have been washed away after the main bridge into Workington on the A597 collapsed, along with Lorton Bridge near Cockermouth and Southwaite footbridge. Power outages were also reported in Cumbria last night after around 1,500 households lost electricity. United Utilities have since said power has been restored to some 660 properties.

In Scotland, there are nine severe flood warnings in place, covering three sections of the River Tweed, two sections of the River Earn, Yarrow Water, Teviot Water, the River Isla in Perthshire and the River Teith at Callander. Reports said rainfall accumulations of 76.4 millimeters (3 inches) were recorded at Eskdalemuir, making it the wettest November day recorded in 100 years after surpassing 70.3mm (2.8 inches) in 1931. A landslip between Carlisle and Penrith caused the West Coast Main Line train service from London to Glasgow to close. Flooding has also been reported in Dumfries and Galloway, where around 30 roads have been closed.

Parts of Wales were also affected by the flooding, and the EA warned river levels are continuing to rise. Reports said northern regions of Wales were worst affected and power was briefly cut to 2,000 homes in Anglesey. Widespread road and rail disruption has been reported in the area and several schools have been closed. However, emergency services say only several isolated homes have been flooded.

Sources: Reuters News, BBC News, Associated Press, Environment Agency, Press Association, The Guardian, The Westmorland Gazette

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Guy Carpenter’s Instrat® department provides CAT-i reports for major natural catastrophes worldwide. These reports cover catastrophes including worldwide tropical cyclones, earthquakes, major UK and European floods and any other natural event that is likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email CAT.i@guycarp.com if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

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