She also said that 85 per cent of the country’s temporary flood barriers are now in Cumbria, with many more sandbags being delivered to areas forecasted to be most at risk. More than 20 extra pumps are in the north of England, four of them are high volume pumps capable of moving one metric tonne of water per second.
The meeting was held as Met Offices warnings for rain in Cumbria on Christmas Day and Boxing Day were upgraded from yellow to amber, the second highest level of alert. The warnings say that:
“Rain will spread northwards across Cumbria during the afternoon and evening of Christmas Day. During the early hours of Boxing Day the rain is likely to turn heavy at times and then persist through most of the day."
“Be prepared for river and surface water flooding to occur with disruption to travel possible.”
Up to six inches - 100mm - is predicted to fall on higher ground, with around half that falling on lower levels. Rain is expected to be heavy and persistent at times.
The amount of rainfall forecast would not usually lead to disruption, but with saturated ground and river levels already high, there are fears that there could be further flooding on roads and potentially to properties.
Liz Truss, speaking after yesterday’s COBR meeting, said:
“We are doing all we can to support Cumbrian communities during this difficult time as we face unprecedented levels of rain and possible further flooding over Christmas as more rain falls on heavily saturated ground.
“I have huge sympathy for those affected - it’s a terrible situation for already hard hit communities and is tougher still because of the time of year.
“Today I chaired a meeting of the Government’s COBR committee to ensure every resource available is being deployed in the right place. The weather reports and river levels are constantly being updated and we are adjusting all of our plans to fit the most up to date information so we protect communities in the best possible way.
“We have over 700 Environment Agency staff ready to respond to flooding, alongside armed forces personnel, as we prepare for all potential scenarios.”
She added: “Environment Agency staff are also working round the clock checking and maintaining flood defences, clearing blockages in watercourses and monitoring water levels.
“Our priority continues to be protecting lives, protecting homes and protecting businesses.”
Flood minister Rory Stewart, who is also MP for Penrith and the Border, is in Appleby today to ensure the right help is getting through, Mrs Truss added.
The Environment Secretary said: “When I visited the area last week I saw for myself the fantastic community spirit and the incredible work of high vis heroes on the frontline - that work continues.
“We have already put forward £60 million to help these communities get back on their feet since the floods first hit earlier this month - we will continue to do what it takes to keep people safe and help the area recover.
“In the longer term we have established the Cumbrian Floods Partnership to consider what more can be done to protect these towns and villages from future flooding.”
More details on the News and Star site at http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/army-on-standby-as-cumbria-prepares-for-more-rain-1.1232177