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Saturday: Flood Misery Grips Cornwall Before Christmas

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8:39pm 22nd December 2012
(Updated 8:39pm 22nd December 2012)

Hundreds of people are in danger of flooding in Helston and Lostwithiel - as officials tell Pirate FM lives are at risk.

Around two hundred residents in Lostwithiel are being urged to leave their homes, in case flood defences fail in the early hours of the morning.

The Environment Agency fears a combination of torrential rain and high tide could breach defences in the next few hours, putting another 120 properties in danger.

Rest centres are being opened for those that are evacuated at Lostwithiel Community Centre, Liddicoat Road and St Winnow School, Polscoe Road.

RNLI teams have been sent into the town. They are using two boats to do a sweep through the town, evacuating locals hit by flooding, including two teenagers. Scroll down to see video.

Fifteen year old Aaron is one of those who was plucked to safety after getting cut off. He said: "The river's completely flooded and I tried to get back home but all the places are flooded so we've got rescue teams taking boats across to people. They said, 'Hop in.'"

The River Cober is on a severe flood warning around St Johns Road, St Johns Close, Coronation Park and Loe Pool in Helston.

Water is cascading into Loe Pool faster than it can be pumped out.

Ray Dawe from the fire service says they are pumping 8,000 litres of river water a minute: "We've been trying to pump the water away from the River Cober. It's dark and wet which makes the conditions more dangerous. The water itself is flowing incredibly quickly so they do present us with a real hazard."

"The River Cober has now got to a level where it's now higher than the arches of some of the bridges so instead of the flood water going down the river it's now starting to spread sideways and flood the surrounding streets."

'At the Mercy of the Weather'

Debbie Turner is one of those nervously watching the water levels in Helston. She said: "Coming at the time of Christmas as well - we're supposed to be going away for Christmas but whether we will or not I don't know. It's just a floodingwatching and waiting sort of situation. I don't think any of us really went to bed last night. We're totally at the mercy of the weather."

There is also a severe flood warning out for the River Fowey from Trekeivesteps to Lostwithiel including Coulson Park, the railway station, Quay Street and along the parade. Almost two hundred people are being given the opportunity to  go to a rest centre in Lostwithiel.

More than 163 properties have flooded in Cornwall, including forty in Millbrook and another ten in Mevagissey.

There are more flood warnings for the Duchy: River Par from Luxulyan to Tywardreath HIghway, River Cober from Wendron to Lowertown, River Kensey from Egloskerry to St Leonards, River Lynher from Berriowbridge to Notter Bridge, River Tamar (Upper) from Tamarstone to Polson Bridge, River Tamar (Middle) from Greystone Bridge to Gunnislake, River Tamar (Lower) from Morwellham Quay to Cotehele Quay, River Neet from Woolstone Mill to Rodds Bridge, River Strat from Bush to Helebridge, River Seaton from the A38 to Seaton, River Tresillian At Ladock, River Hayle from Relubbus to St Erth, the River Camel from Camelford to Polbrock.

There are also a series of flood alerts in place. You can find them here.floods

It is after we were lashed by four centimetres of rain through Friday night. Forecasters say there is more to come.

The Met Office has an amber weather warning out.

Steve Marks from the Environment Agency in Cornwall said: "The problem is we've just had so much rain there's just so much water trying to find its way off all our land, trying to get into the rivers and then out to sea that even when all our assets are performing well some of them are just full of water."

Roads Submerged

Cornwall Council has a hundred staff responding to more than a hundred and sixty calls since midnight. By 1pm 23 fire engines were at emergency calls across the Duchy, meaning the service is having to prioritise incidents where lives are at risk.
They are coming from places including Buryas Bridge, Cawsand, Durgan, Hayle, Heamoor, Helston, Ladock, Looe, Lostwithiel, Mevagissey, Millbrook, Mousehole, Penryn, Penzance, Probus, St Columb, St Erth, St Just, Torpoint, St Blazey, Polbathick, Bugle, Quethiock, St Austell, Trenant Vale, Padstow and Godolphin Cross.

Several roads around Looe, Millendreath and Millbrook area are blocked. There are also reports of landslips in places.

Force incident manager Ian Milligan from Devon and Cornwall Police said: "As it comes close to Christmas on a busy, last minute Christmas shopping day, people should take care with what they want to do on their journeys to avoid driving into flooded roads. We've had a number of incidents overnight where people have done that and found themselves trapped."floods

A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said: "Further heavy rain will affect Cornwall between 3 pm and 11 pm today (Saturday ) with the possibility of between 20 – 30 mm of rain falling generally, and larger amounts falling on high ground.

"There is then further rain expected on Sunday into Monday.  As the water is already totally saturated, there are concerns over further flooding in vulnerable areas. Flood warnings remain in place for rivers across Cornwall."

The route from Looe to Hannafore is shut by landslips and fallen trees. It leaves around two hundred properties cut off. An engineer is worried about the impact of a spring in the area. There are also concerns over the stability of a retaining wall. It will stay closed overnight.floods

A council spokesperson said: "Structural and geo technical engineers from Cornwall Council will be on site from 8.30am on Sunday morning with a gang from CORMAC to carry out works to stabilise the situation. It is expected that the road will be partially re opened for public access under traffic light control by early afternoon. In the meantime local arrangements are being made to provide access for emergency vehicles only.

"While the agencies are trying to resolve the situation as quickly as possible public safety is of paramount importance."

Councillor Armand Toms has been battling to clear routes in the area, to help Christmas shoppers get through to local businesses. He said: "It's scary times for the whole of Cornwall really. To be honest I've never known so much rain. It's basically rained for six months solid."


A forecaster for the Met Office said: "Further bands of heavy rain accompanied by strong winds are expected to move north and east across the southwest and southern England and south Wales through Saturday and early Sunday.

"Given that the ground is already saturated, the public should be prepared for the risk of localised flooding from both rivers and surface water. This could well lead to disruption to travel, with a low likelihood of severe disruption, particularly in parts of Devon and Cornwall."

Cornwall Fire Service has asked to borrow another pump from colleagues in Avon. It is currently on its way to the Duchy.


8:39pm 22nd December 2012

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