Britain to review defences after floods

  • 08/12/2015
Rescue workers remove local residents by boat from a flooded residential street in Carlisle (Reuters)
Rescue workers remove local residents by boat from a flooded residential street in Carlisle (Reuters)

Britain will review its flood defences after a powerful storm caused severe flooding, swamping hundreds of homes, British Prime Minister David Cameron says.

The Conservative leader on Monday (local time) visited Carlisle, a city in the hard-hit Cumbria region of England, where he viewed a flooded home and met soldiers who helped evacuate the area.

"It's an absolutely horrific thing to happen and for some of these people it's not the first time it's happened," Cameron said, adding that the Environment Agency would study how to improve flood barriers.

"We will ask all those questions because people want to live free from the fear of being flooded. We need to make sure they get all the support they need."

Cumbria police declared a "major incident" after the region was lashed by Storm Desmond, and weather warnings were issued for the rest of the week.

More than 350 military personnel were deployed in Carlisle to help evacuate homes as the water reached waist height in places.

The incident raised questions over why barriers built following serious flooding in Cumbria in 2005 failed to contain the weekend's heavy rainfall, in which 2000 buildings were flooded.

Following criticism, the Environment Agency said £45 million had been spent on the defences in the last decade, and described the rainfall as "beyond the forecasts and beyond the models".

The storm left tens of thousands without power, disrupted water supplies and forced the closure of a number of schools.

One death was reported in London, after an elderly man was blown into the path of a bus, and a body was also found in a search of the River Kent in Cumbria, after reports that an elderly man had fallen into the water.