Severe flooding hit Lancashire following torrential downpours over the Christmas period.
Now emergency services and residents are preparing for an extensive clean-up operation as the rain dies off and the full extent of damage is revealed.
The region was hit with up to 100mm of rain yesterday, with seven ‘red’ weather warnings issued by the Environment Agency. Police have now revealed that weather warnings have been lifted and that water is receding in badly-hit areas.
A spokesman said: “There is though a lot of flood damage and so roads are difficult to access.
“All rest centres are now closed and there is no more military involvement. No more weather warnings are in place until Tuesday for the county.”
The most severe flood warnings were put in place in Ribchester and other parts of the Ribble Valley and St Michaels in Wyre. More than 600 homes were told to evacuate by emergency crews battling the flood damage.
Residents in Whalley and Ribchester were invited to visit rest centres at Longridge Civic Hall, Haslingden Leisure Centre, Chorley Town Hall and Whalley Golf Club, with residents in St Michael’s urged to take shelter at the Grapes Pub in Garstang Road.
The car parks and grounds at St Catherine’s Hospice in Lostock Hall were flooded after the River Lostock burst its banks.
The driveway and both car parks for the hospice and The Mill cafe had to be closed after the deluge left them impassable and unsafe.
A clean-up operation of the area is now being planned.
Stephen Greenhalgh, Chief Executive of St Catherine’s Hospice, said: “Fortunately the main hospice building, including our in-patient unit, was unaffected by the flooding and our important work was able to carry on as usual. Our thoughts are with those families who were not so lucky and whose homes have been flooded.”
Chief Insp Dave Mangan, of Lancashire Police, said the flooding had created an exceptionally busy shift for emergency services.
He said: “It has been an incredibly busy day with severe flood warnings with threat to life across Whalley, Ribchester and St Michael’s on Wyre. They have taken priority focus.
“We have also taken and moved vulnerable people across the county. We have been fortunate with football matches being called off, allowing us to move officers from those games to deal with the flood threat and risks.”
Elsewhere, localised flooding caused chaos around the county.
- Rivers burst their banks across the county, including the River Ribble around Preston, River Darwen in Walton-le-Dale, River Calder and River Wyre;
- Road closures were put in place around the county, including Broadgate Bridge in Preston forced to close because of high water levels;
- Flooding in Lostock Hall forced motorists to abandon their vehicles;
- Environmental Agency crews were brought in high water pump to combat massive floods in Croston;
- Events were cancelled across the county, including the annual Longridge Pram Race and Ribble Valley 10km run;
- Avenham and Miller Park and Moor Park were left looking like lakes after hours of heavy flooding.
- Army teams, Bowland Mountain Rescue crews and Bay Search and Rescue teams using amphibious Hagglund vehicles used in recent Cumbria floods were all drafted in to assist emergency services.
Lancashire’s deputy chief fire officer took to Twitter to assure residents everything was being done to tackle the problems. He said: “We have resources active across the county with a focus on life risk.”
Lancashire was hit with the rainfall that was expected to fall in Cumbria and forecasters said up to 100mm fell in some area of the county throughout Boxing Day.
Tony Pounder from Lancashire County Council said: “We’re working closely with the emergency services to respond to what is a serious situation in several parts of the county.
“Our role has included setting up rest centres where people can stay warm and dry if they’re stranded from their homes.
“At the moment we have rest centres up and running at four locations although people haven’t attended in large numbers so far.
“Our highways teams are working hard to clear debris that’s contributing to localised flooding on the road network. We have had a number of enquiries about flooded roads and we’re dealing with them as quickly as we can.
“The road conditions are dangerous in places and we’re advising people not to travel unless they really need to. It’s essential motorists drive with extra care and we’d ask people not to take the risk of driving through anything that looks like deep water - this can cause cars to become stranded but also poses a threat to homes and businesses at the road side, which can suffer damage when passing vehicles create waves.
“A less visible but vital task has been to identify vulnerable people who may be in need of extra support because they’re not fully independent, whether they live alone or in supported accommodation.
“We’re making efforts to ensure contact with these people in the worst affected areas and give them any extra support they might need.”
An Environment Agency spokesman posted online: “We have seen heavy rainfall over Lancashire with totals of up to 45 mm of rain which has already fallen on the higher ground. The latest forecast suggests that over the next 24 hours we can expect another 70mm over the wider area and up to 100 mm locally over the higher ground.
“The ground is saturated and rivers have already risen throughout the night. With this recent forecast we are concerned about areas that have already been affected over recent weeks and ask people to be prepared, move valuables and take advice from emergency services about evacuation.”
The weather warnings are a another blow for people whose homes were badly affected by flooding earlier this month.