Flooding caused more than £1m of damage in Cumbria, county council reveals

More than £1 million of damage was caused in Cumbria by the latest bout of flooding.

Councillor Keith Little, the county’s transport chief, reported on the toll taken in the area when Cumbria County Council met at Carlisle Racecourse this week.

He said it was ‘ironic’ that at the same time world leaders gathered in Glasgow for COP26 to discuss strategies to deal with climate change, Cumbria was picking up the pieces of another significant weather event which had left more than 40 properties flooded last week.

“In addition to this, our highway teams have identified more than 90 sites around the county with significant damage to our highway network,” he said. “These figures will continue to rise as the team complete their assessment of the damage in the coming weeks.”

The council’s highways team received more than 350 flood related calls in the final five days of October, while staff worked around the clock during the flood event to assist communities, businesses and residents at a cost of more than £250,000.

Cllr Little said: “As a result of this flood event and as the assessments of the highways and bridges damage continue, we have already identified more than £1m of damage which will need to be met from our existing budgets.

“Unless this Government steps in and levels up the funding for areas like Cumbria there will be further events of this nature in the future, putting more pressure on local committee budgets.”

November has been a nailbiting time of year for Cumbrians since major flooding events in 2009 and 2015.

But flooding was seen in Whitehaven, Keswick, Cockermouth, Carlisle and surrounding areas in late October this year.

Local authorities and residents have been forced to come up with strategies to brace for potential floods.

Cllr Little said: “Our bridges team have a well-tested bridge alert system for monitoring bridges during heavy rainfall periods such as experienced last week.

“Alerts were triggered at 71 of our county highway bridges, the majority being in the west of the county.

“Four bridges were closed to traffic, including Duddon, Holmrook, Egremont and Wath.

“We have a clear procedure which we followed to ensure that any bridges are inspected and assessed as safe to reopen.”

Cllr Little thanked staff from local authorities and have-a-go heroes for their support during the latest bout of flooding.

“I would like to place on record my personal thanks to all our staff, partners and community groups for all their hard work over the past week,” he said. “I am pleased to say that through the work of our highway teams and local committees, a number of areas that would have normally flooded in such an event did not.

“This clearly shows that with the right funding Cumbria can provide flood protection in the areas of most need.”

Phase two of the Environment Agency’s Carlisle Flood Risk Management Scheme was completed in mid-October, raising and strengthening the city’s defences.

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