Battle to restore power in wake of storm

Storm Desmond: Engineers battle to restore power to 43,000 homes

  • 8 December 2015
  • From the section UK
Media captionResidents in Brunton Avenue, Carlisle, show the BBC’s Ed Thomas through their flooded homes

Engineers are battling to reconnect more than 43,000 homes left without power in the wake of Storm Desmond.

Electricity North West said it hoped to restore supply to 42,000 people in Lancashire from 08:00 GMT, and its teams were also working “tirelessly” to reconnect 1,450 homes in Cumbria.

Thousands of people have left flooded homes, and more rain is expected this week across the north of the UK.

There are 16 severe flood warnings, indicating danger to life, in place.

Storm Desmond battered north-west England, as well as parts of Northern Ireland, north Wales and southern Scotland, over the weekend.

Record-breaking amounts of rain fell in Cumbria – the worst-hit county – prompting it to declare a major incident.

On Monday night, Electricity North West said 1,450 properties in Cumbria, mostly in Carlisle, and 42,000 across Lancaster, Morecambe, Heysham and Carnforth, were without power.

‘Unforeseen damage’

Almost all of the homes that lost power in Lancashire had been reconnected after an initial failure, but lost power again shortly afterwards.

The energy firm apologised and said “unforeseen” flood damage at a substation in Lancaster on Monday afternoon had caused a “significant” fault.

Media captionAerial footage filmed on Monday morning shows the flood levels in Carlisle

Some 19,000 customers in Lancaster are being supplied by generators, and further generators were being brought in.

In other developments:

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Power remains off and streets under water as rescue teams continue to evacuate people in Carlisle, north-west England
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A car submerged under flood waters in the city centre of Carlisle

An estimated 5,200 homes have been affected by flooding, and two people have been killed in the severe weather.

In Cumbria, police said a man’s body had been recovered from a river.

And the body of a 70-year-old man from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, was found on a road in the Republic of Ireland.

It is understood his car got stuck in flooding and he was swept away when he got out.

How do you stop flooding?

In pictures: Storm Desmond chaos

Insurance advice for flooding victims

Acts of kindness keep Cumbria afloat

Environment Agency map of flood-risk areas

Meanwhile, there has been criticism of the government because Cumbria’s multimillion-pound flood defences – built following floods in 2005 – failed to keep the deluge from people’s homes.

During a visit to Carlisle on Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron said the flooding was “absolutely horrific” and the government would fully reimburse councils for the costs of dealing with it.

Conservative MP Neil Parish, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee, said it was time to “face up to the facts” and more money needed to be spent on the UK’s flood defences.

Government documents suggest there will be a decrease in flood defence spending in England, from £802m last year to £695m in this financial year.

‘Real terms increase’

Last year’s figures were inflated by exceptional funding from the Treasury in the wake of winter floods two years ago, BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said.

“So ministers are maintaining that underlying expenditure on flood defences hasn’t been cut, and it will be a real terms increase over the next five years,” he said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the government of making “false promises” about dealing with flood defences.

Live flood warnings from the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Note: the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency display their flood alert data differently. While the Environment Agency highlights individual rivers only, in Scotland the entire region is coloured to indicate the level of alert. This map and flood alert data are supplied to the BBC by third parties. The BBC is not responsible for its accuracy and you use it at your own risk.

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