Britain calls crisis meeting as floods hit northern England, one killed

One person is killed after heavy rain and strong winds hit the UK, causing widespread flooding and power cuts and forcing hundreds of people from their homes.

KESWICK, ENGLAND, UK (DECEMBER 6, 2015) (ITN) – Britain’s emergency response committee met on Sunday (December 6) after prolonged heavy rain caused widespread flooding in northwest England and forced emergency services to evacuate residents from their homes.

The meeting was called after storms battered the country overnight, killing one man and leaving hundreds of homes flooded and without power. Police declared a major incident and coastguards were called in to rescue stranded residents.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said the government committee had been called to “urgently assess the scale of the floods and ensure the response remains coordinated, effective and gets help to those affected as quickly as possible.”

Police said they believed one man was killed in London, which also experienced high winds, after he was blown into the side of a moving bus. There were no other reports of deaths or injuries.

Britain has suffered several heavy floods in recent years. In 2014 thousands of acres of farmland in the south of the country were submerged for weeks and the northwest region was badly flooded in both 2009 and 2005.

Prime Minister David Cameron said on Twitter that the army had been mobilised to help those affected.

“In 2009, we thought there were devastating floods. And I don’t think I can emphasise the word devastating enough on this occasion. It’s been tragic, absolutely tragic. This has been the worst we’ve ever seen,” said Andrew Lysser, local councillor for Keswick, a town in England’s Cumbria county.

Emergency services had been evacuating homes by boat and helicopter, he said.

Britain’s national weather service, the Met Office, said in one of the worst affected areas 201.8 millimetres (7.94 inches) of rain had fallen on Saturday – only slightly below the 215 mm usually seen during the whole of December. Gusts of wind reached 90 miles per hour, a spokesman said.

The worst of the storm responsible for the flooding, named ‘Desmond’ by the Met office, had passed according to forecasters but more wet weather was expected in coming days.