UK flood warnings: Families flee condemned houses as huge clean-up operation begins

Families flee condemned terraced houses after deluge causes landslide as Britain begins huge flood clean-up operationFive homes in Whitby will be demolished over the next 24 hours after gardens fell away threatening foundationsResidents given just 48 hours to move essential items out of their housesPensioner, 91, killed in flooding in St Asaph, North Wales, today named as Margaret Hughes
Number of flood warnings across the rest of the country expected to fall throughout todayEnvironment Agency: 'We are over the worst in terms of flooding'Pumps continue to remove water from behind St Asaph flood defences
Dry weather expected throughout today across the UKLocalised flooding expected along Trent, Severn and Thames rivers

|

UPDATED:

16:00 GMT, 28 November 2012

Five houses will be demolished within two days after the ground beneath them disappeared when raging torrents of water caused a massive landslide.

The 150-year-old row of terraced houses in Whitby, North Yorkshire, will have to be torn down after their gardens became saturated by rainfall and slipped away last night. Another two at the end of the property also faced demolition but it is thought they will now be allowed to stay.

However, despite being given two days notice residents of Aelfleda Terrace have been told only to take essential items and the rest of their property will go with the houses.

Many people have been left homeless as a result of the landslide including Judie Knight, 62, and she blames Yorkshire Water for the landslide, pointing the finger at poor drainage work.

Residents have blamed the landslide on 'poor drainage work' carried out by Yorkshire Water a decade ago

Residents have blamed the landslide on 'poor drainage work' carried out by Yorkshire Water a decade ago

Five of the seven houses will have to be destroyed within 24 hours leaving residents homeless and without any possessions

Five of the seven houses will have to be destroyed within 24 hours leaving residents homeless and without any possessions

Some houses below those that have to be demolished were also damaged as a result of the landslide

Some houses below those that have to be demolished were also damaged as a result of the landslide

Residents were given just a matter of minutes to go back into their houses to collect essential items before being ordered to evacuate

Residents were given just a matter of minutes to go back into their houses to collect essential items before being ordered to evacuate

She cannot go into the house where she has lived for 26 to retrieve her possessions before it is destroyed and it will be one of five to be knocked down over the next 24 hours. The two remaining homes will be destroyed after that.

Speaking about waking up to discover her garden had slipped 15ft, she said: 'I thought I hadn't woken up; I thought I was still in a nightmare. I have never been homeless or possessionless before.

When she reported the landslide she was told to leave her house, where she lived with her two cats, immediately for her own safety and she took with her just one lot of clothing. She was allowed to return for half an hour to retrieve a few items, but will not be allowed back into her home.

Mrs Knight said: 'I'm hoping against hope that I can get back in, just for some clothes and toiletries. I don't know what I'm going to do. I can't explain to you. The whole demolition thing is just disbelief and shock.'

One of her cats was inside the house but the second one has not been seen since the collapse. Last night another landslide occurred damaging a row of homes below, and highlighting the precarious structure of the whole area.

A row of Victorian houses has been condemned after their gardens fall away sparking fears that the foundations would give way after heavy rainfall

A row of Victorian houses has been condemned after their gardens fall away sparking fears that the foundations would give way after heavy rainfall

Ms Knigth added that drainage work was carried
out a decade ago and that may have triggered the collapse. She said: 'If
Yorkshire Water had done what they should have done when they were
first aware of these problems, my view is this whole episode could have
been avoided.'

A spokesman
for Yorkshire Water said: 'This is clearly a very distressing time for
the owners of these properties and our thoughts are with them. Our
priority at the moment is to ensure that all those affected by the
collapse are being well looked after and we are liaising closely with
the council to assist in whatever way we can.

Residents have been left devastated after they were told they could only remove essential items from their homes before they are knocked down

Residents have been left devastated after they were told they could only remove essential items from their homes before they are knocked down

'We
have been in ongoing dialogue with the owners with regards to the sewer
that serves these properties. We are not going to jump to any
conclusions today but rest assured we remain committed to continue
working with the property-owners and the council to understand what’s
happened.'

Limited access
has caused problems with how to bring machinery to the site and this has
delayed demolition of Aelfleda Terrace by around 24 hours.

Ms
Knight said she first noticed the ground was moving on Monday
afternoon. She said: 'About 4pm it was starting to cave in where the
drain runs.

'Then I looked
again at 8.30pm and it had dropped about 4ft. I rang Yorkshire Water but
they were inundated with people who had sewage in their house so they
couldn't help. I woke at 1am the next day and had the shock of my life.'

Scarborough Borough Council have been in contact with Ms Knight to discuss potential housing while the situation is resolved.

In
addition to feeling shock and disbelief, Ms Knight said she is also
angry at Yorkshire Water, who she believes is to blame for landslide.

The
former fishermen's cottages were not damaged but it is feared their
foundations have been compromised and further subsidence could pose a
threat to other houses.

Alan Tomlinson, who runs a holiday
let from one of the houses where he used to live, said: 'It's
heartbreaking to see it just like this. It's lucky that it didn't happen
in the middle of the day and there was nobody in it.'

'It's so fast, we're reeling a bit. We have fond memories of the place, we've had good times there.'

An
emergency meeting was held at the harbour master's office on Tuesday
afternoon, where shocked home-owners were informed that their properties
were set to be demolished.

Independent contractors compiled a report condemning the buildings, which has been corroborated by Scarborough Borough Council's own engineers. There was also a fear that any further slippage could put properties below – including homes and businesses – at risk.

Mr Tomlinson explained that he has now lost a profitable business, and while he will be able to claim insurance on the property, he still expects to make a substantial loss – and with the house attracting bookings across 40 weeks each year, a large amount of income has been taken away.

He believes that the cause of the landslip was flawed drainage works completed by Yorkshire Water a decade ago.

He said: 'We discovered about three years ago that they hadn't connected rain water pipes correctly so we had six or seven years of rain coming off the roof, straight into the ground. But we've been fighting with Yorkshire Water and they are denying it.'

The incident also raised fears for the adjacent Elbow Terrace, owned by Yorkshire Coast Homes, but engineers gave that structure the all-clear. Other residents have speculated that many more buildings in the area may be at risk.

They said that when the Abbey car park was constructed, excess soil was dumped above The Ropery. This formed a layer of clay that prevents water from soaking into the ground. Water instead remains at the surface and flows downhill – causing additional flooding to properties.

Martin Jones looks at a wall knocked down by flood waters outside the house in St Asaph where he has lived with his new wife for just two months

Martin Jones looks at a wall knocked down by flood waters outside the house in St Asaph where he has lived with his new wife for just two months

Jemma Davies, 26, starts cleaning work at the Bod Erw Public House after 4ft high water hit the pub caused thousands of pounds worth of damage

Anne and Terry Hughes watch on as his daughter, Lirsty Richards tries to help get rid of some of the sludge left behind by flood waters

Jemma Davies, 26, left, starts cleaning work at the Bod Erw Public House after 4ft high water hit the pub caused thousands of pounds worth of damage as Anne and Terry Hughes watch on as his daughter, Lirsty Richards tries to help get rid of some of the sludge left behind by flood waters in St Asaph

A pensioner killed in flooding in St Asaph, North Wales, was named today as Margaret Hughes.

The 91-year-old stayed in her home where 500 other properties were flooded and neighbours say she was determined not to leave her home.

Dozens of families are still unable to return to their homes today with many staying in emergency accommodation or with family and friends. Others have moved into caravans at nearby holiday sites while the clean-up continued.

MORTGAGE WARNING OVER FLOOD INSURANCE

Mortgage lenders have warned that borrowing will become more difficult for some people if insurers and the Government cannot hammer out an agreement to make sure people can continue to have affordable flood insurance.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) said that lenders may have to consider the extent to which a lack of affordable cover for some customers would increase the risks in advancing new loans.

Concerns have been raised that 200,000 householders could lose their home cover due to a row between ministers and the insurance industry over how future flooding bills will be covered.

The CML said it had seen 'few signs' of progress since it warned earlier this year that insurance is a 'key component' of a functioning housing market in flood-prone areas.

A charity was set up yesterday to aid the flooding victims – and some will not be able to return home until after Christmas. Town Mayor John Roberts said: 'Normal life will not resume in St Asaph for some time. It’s going to take weeks, most probably months.

'It’s very early days, and not everyone has been able to return to their homes. But the clean-up operation has been progressing well. The roads have been cleared, but clearing up people’s property is going to take longer.

'We have set up a system for people to volunteer – they can go to the emergency relief centre and register there.'

Housewife Alex Williams, 36, told how she had to leave her house as it flooded with brown river water. She said: 'I walked up the high street and the water was up to my ankles. When I came down five minutes later and the water was up to my chest.'

Deliveries of clothes and children’s toys were being made by local supermarkets as families were forced to leave everything behind as their homes quickly flooded. Relief agencies yesterday appealed for people who had left the area because of the floods to make contact with them so they could be accounted for.

David Hallows of the British Red Cross said: 'The local community are really pulling together and we have been amazed at the tremendous amount of support we are receiving. People are calling up to offer their help, blankets, and even rooms for displaced people.'

Hundreds of flood warnings remained in place across England and Wales this morning as flood-ravaged towns woke up to another day of devastation.

Although the weather has improved for much of the UK overnight, the Environment Agency last night said there was still a possibility of more flooding and disruption for the next 48 hours.

In north Wales hundreds of people spent the night away from their homes after parts of the River Elwy yesterday burst in banks and breached flood barriers, devastating properties.

James Evans looks at the sediment left behind in his lounge after flood waters receded from his home in St Asaph, North Wales

James Evans looks at the sediment left behind in his lounge after flood waters receded from his home in St Asaph, North Wales

The water poured throughout the groundfloor of Mr Evans's house. Here he looks at the damage done to his conservatory

The water poured throughout the groundfloor of Mr Evans's house. Here he looks at the damage done to his conservatory

Tom Wynne sweepes muddy sediment off the drive of a house in St Asaph after the flood waters went down

Tom Wynne sweepes muddy sediment off the drive of a house in St Asaph after the flood waters went down

Mark Kerr empties his wellies on a wall in Town Street, Old Malton

Pumps continue to empty water from the town

Mark Kerr empties his wellies on a wall in Town Street, Old Malton as emergency pumps continue to empty water from the town

CAR MARKET TO BE FLOODED WITH DAMAGED VEHICLES

Insurers are warning that the used-car market could be inundated with flood-damaged cars.

AA
Insurance said that while many cars are written off, some owners wait
until they have dried out and appear undamaged and then sell them on
without making a claim.

An estimated 14m worth of claims are expected to be made for cars written off by the bad weather.

However cars that appear undamaged after being immersed in water can hide potentially fatal faults.

The river is now flowing within its
banks, albeit higher than normal, and water is being pumped from behind
flood defences back into the river.

The EA warned of a risk of flooding in
Gloucester, Salisbury, Oxford, Sunbury, Abingdon and York, while mobile
flood defences have been erected in Shrewsbury and Bewdley in
Worcestershire.

It highlighted areas around slow-responding rivers including the Thames, Trent and the Severn were at particular risk.

A
spokesman for the Environment Agency said: 'Levels in the Severn will
continue to peak throughout the day with isolated flooding, but we are
over the worst.

'We
are keeping a close eye on the bigger rivers and in North Wales we have a
few teams getting the water from behind the flood defences.'

Some
173 flood warnings and 184 flood alerts are still in place across
England and Wales, along with two severe flood warnings in the
devastated city of St Asaph, Denbighshire and around Rhuddlan, both in
north Wales.

St
Asaph Leisure Centre was transformed into an evacuation centre where
about 150 people gathered for shelter, including people with babies.

Residents in Old Malton begin to deal with the aftermath of the floods in North Yorkshire

Residents in Old Malton begin to deal with the aftermath of the floods in North Yorkshire

The humorous message 'Told You So' has been put on the back of a flood sign in Gloucestershire

Residents wade through the high level flooding around the River Derwent in the market town of Malton

In Gloucestershire, left, someone pokes fun with a humorous sign while left residents in Malton wade through the high level flooding around the River Derwent

A firefighter walks past a house that appears to have been defended against flooding with sandbags

A firefighter walks past a house that appears to have been defended against flooding with sandbags

A man rolls a beer barrel through Old Malton where several houses were flooded after drains became blocked

A man rolls a beer barrel through Old Malton where several houses were flooded after drains became blocked

A mile stone is partly submerged in water as firefighters continue to try and keep water away from the village

A mile stone is partly submerged in water as firefighters continue to try and keep water away from the village

Land around Burton upon Trent has been flooded but the river is not expected to cause the same problems as it did further upstream

Land around Burton upon Trent has been flooded but the river is not expected to cause the same problems as it did further upstream

Land around Branston Gold and Country Club was under water as the huge volumes of water continue along the River Trent throughout today

Land around Branston Gold and Country Club was under water as the huge volumes of water continue along the River Trent throughout today

A map shows how much rain has fallen across the UK over the last eight days

This map shows the difference between the weather of the last seven days and the average rainfall for November

The map to the left shows just how much rain has fallen across the UK
while the one on the right shows the average rainfall for the same
period in November. Many parts experienced nearly double the average
amount

The Met Office issued this map showing where cold weather is expected over the next few days

The Met Office issued this map showing where cold weather is expected over the next few days

Cafe assistant Heidi Chaplin, 31, said the atmosphere was mixed but most people were 'a bit down'.

'Seven
feet of water came in at some places and people were boat-lifted out of
their windows with babies crying,' she said. 'It was terrible for them,
really sad.'

Cafe assistant Heidi Chaplin, 31, said the atmosphere was mixed but most people were 'a bit down'.

'Seven
feet of water came in at some places and people were boat-lifted out of
their windows with babies crying,' she said. 'It was terrible for them,
really sad.'

Prime Minister David Cameron visited
flood-ravaged homes in Buckfastleigh, Devon, where he told residents the
Government would do everything to 'help them with the recovery'.

Mother-of-two
Helen Ross, 37, who works at a local school in St Asaph, said the water
level reached more than a foot above her floorboards, causing extensive
damage to her living and dining rooms and kitchen.

'I have lived here nine years and I never seen the river cause flooding like this,' she said.

'My
husband phoned me at 7am to say parts of the city were being evacuated.
I looked out of the window and there was water over the road and then,
within an hour, it was in the house.'

Wiping away tears she added: 'We’ve lost everything downstairs. It’s heartbreaking.'

A 92-year-old local man was rescued by British Red Cross volunteers yesterday after he became trapped in his house.

Three other people have died since the latest bout of wet weather struck.

A
man killed when his 4×4 was submerged after getting wedged under a
bridge in Somerset was reported yesterday to have been John McNair, a
77-year-old grandfather of 10.

The Evening Standard reported that Mr
McNair, the former chairman of the East Lewisham Conservative
Association in London, was on his way home to his farm in Painscastle,
Powys, after visiting his son in the village of Chew Stoke when he died
on Thursday.

Mr Cameron yesterday promised to take a 'tough approach' on negotiations with insurers over homes in danger of flooding.

Up
to 200,000 high risk properties could be priced out of affordable cover
when a deal struck in 2000 between the then Labour government and
insurers ends next summer.

After meeting householders in
Buckfastleigh, which was struck by flash flooding at the weekend, he
said: 'It is obviously very traumatic when communities are hit by
flooding like this but what I found are people are incredibly steadfast
and have behaved incredibly bravely at handling the flood and now we
need to help them with the recovery.

'We
have to make sure their insurance pays out, make sure the Environment
Agency puts in place good flood defences, make sure there are better
warning schemes.'

Large
swathes of the Riverside cricket ground next to the River Wear in
Chester-le-Street, where England will play Australia next summer, were
under water today.

There was
disruption for thousands of drivers and train services were subject to
hold-ups and reduced services in the West Country and the North East.

Councils
have placed thousands of tonnes of sandbags, water pumps and emergency
accommodation at the ready and some have even been loaning washing
machines, cookers and fridges to those whose homes have been devastated.

Like a dog to water: This dog seems to be enjoying the weather after retrieving a large stick from the flood waters

Like a dog to water: This dog seems to be enjoying the weather after retrieving a large stick from the flood waters

A Hereford cow has had its available pasture vastly diminished by the rising flood waters on the banks of the River Trent

A Hereford cow has had its available pasture vastly diminished by the rising flood waters on the banks of the River Trent

DM.has('rcpv1993568546001','BCVideo');