Storm Desmond caused record rainfall levels this weekend – and nearly a hundred flood warnings and alerts are still in place in England and Wales. Over 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the worst affected areas, and firefighters in Northern Ireland saved 26 people trapped by floods, including 10 in one housing estate. A new record for rainfall over a 24-hour period was broken as 341.4mm (over 13 inches) of rain fell at Honister Pass in Cumbria, and the maximum wind speed recorded was a gust of 81mph in Gwynedd, Wales.
Over 43,000 homes and businesses in Cumbria and Lancashire lost power over the weekend. Electricity staff worked ‘around the clock’, and energy suppliers say power has been restored to the vast majority of affected homes. Lancaster University is still without power, and has cancelled teaching until the end of term.
Businesses Affected by Storm Desmond
The total cost of the flooding could reach hundreds of millions. The Prince’s Countryside Fund released £40,000 from its Emergency Fund to support rural communities and businesses, and the Cumbria Flood Appeal aims to raise £1 million in donations to support the communities devastated by the flooding.
In Lancaster, water flooded the cellar and ground floor of the Wagon and Horses pub. Speaking to the BBC, landlord Paul Tarry said:
“We’ve lost £10,000 in stock. There’s £10,000 per month in lost business. Add to the cost of repairing the building, the electrics and replacing all our damaged equipment and it could be as much as a hundred thousand pounds.”
The Role of Climate Change
Extreme flooding affected Cumbria in 2005 and 2009, making this the third disaster to ravage the region in ten years – even though they were described as ‘once in 100 years’ events. The most recent flooding has topped defences built in 2012, including a £4.4m self-closing barrier in Cockermouth. As the UN climate change conference in Paris continues, environmental campaigners have accused negotiators of “fiddling while Britain floods”.
The Met Office’s chief scientist Dame Julia Slingo told BBC Radio 4:
“Is it to do with climate change? There can’t yet be a definitive answer but we know that all the evidence from fundamental physics and what we understand about our weather patterns, that there is potentially a role.”
With more heavy rain forecast and flood alerts still in place, it seems certain that the chaos caused by Storm Desmond will continue. At Ice Watch, we tackle winter weather, helping to protect UK businesses from the disruption and cost of snow and ice. To find out more about how you can protect your business from extreme weather this winter, contact Ice Watch today on 01728 633900.