Thousands hit by floods and power cuts at Christmas

December 25, 2013 9:35 am Comments Off on Thousands hit by floods and power cuts at Christmas Views: 338

Flooding is causing difficulties for thousands of people in southern England after stormy weather lashed the UK.

Three severe flood warnings are in place in Surrey and Dorset, with many people rescued from homes overnight.

And tens of thousands of people, mostly in southern England, are spending Christmas morning without electricity.

Gatwick Airport said it was running a full service, but advised people to check with airlines before flying after floods caused cancellations on Tuesday.

Armed police had to be called in to man information desks and deal with furious passengers who were stranded or delayed, one man told the BBC.

A spokeswoman said all flights except those with British Airways would be departing from the South terminal on Wednesday.

Risk of flooding

The River Mole in Surrey has burst its banks in several areas and an Environment Agency severe flood warning – which means a danger to life – has been issued for Leatherhead.

Man wades through rising floodwater from the River Mole outside the Burford Bridge Hotel near Dorking on December 24 2013Rising floodwater from the River Mole has affected residents in Surrey
Leatherhead in Surrey People in Leatherhead, Surrey woke up to a watery Christmas morning
TonbridgeA supermarket car park was left flooded in Tonbridge on Tuesday
A power failure at Gatwick caused delays and cancellationsA power failure at Gatwick caused delays and cancellations

A “multi-agency response” to flooding is also taking place in Godalming on the River Wey.

The Environment Agency said the River Medway in Kent had continued to rise and flood risks would continue for three days.

Flooding and storm damage has left many without power, possibly until Boxing Day, as Ben Moore reports

Kent Police said the river had flooded areas from Tonbridge to Allington, with Mereworth and Yalding – where 76 people were rescued by the Coastguard from a flooded caravan park – badly affected.

The Coastguard said the majority of residents were taken to a leisure centre in the early evening in small boats and four-by-four vehicles.

In other developments:

  • Emergency services have been evacuating homes in Tonbridge.
  • Surrey Fire and Rescue tweeted to say “many rescues” were being made due
  • A severe flood warning has been issued for Iford Home Park, a residential development on the River Stour, near Bournemouth, Dorset, and police evacuated the park overnight. About 90 residents were being accommodated at the Boscombe Day Centre in Boscombe.
  • Firefighters in Surrey and Kent broke a five-hour nationwide strike to help deal with the effects of the storms.
  • On the roads, many major routes were flooded or blocked in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Cornwall.
  • In Dorset, fire crews rescued 25 people trapped in their cars by flood water.
  • The Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry crossings said it would take the unusual step of operating a Christmas Day sailing following cancellations during the day.
  • Airline easyJet said it would be operating a limited number of flights from Gatwick Airport to replace ones that should have operated on Christmas Eve.

The power cut at Gatwick’s north terminal was caused by flooding on the Mole which affected airfield substations and saw more than 30 flights cancelled and police called in to man information desks.

Steve Wood said the flood waters had reached houses on the High Street in Tonbridge, Kent

Around 100 flights are due to leave Gatwick on Christmas Day – including some services rescheduled from Tuesday – and passengers are advised to check with their airlines before setting off for the airport.

Gatwick said: “Due to adverse weather in the last 48 hours there are still power outages in parts of our North Terminal. These are causing delays to departing flights and our engineers are on site rectifying this.”

Joe Pattinson, 35, from Wokingham in Surrey, had been due to fly from Gatwick to Barcelona but ended up returning home amid the “absolute confusion”.

“We’d been waiting for three hours in the queue. There was no information and we couldn’t find anyone to explain what we should be doing. Eventually three armed police turned up to try and calm people down.”

Jamie Whiteford arrived at Gatwick at 05:30 on Christmas Eve and spent more than 12 hours waiting at the airport for his flight to Edinburgh to depart before it was eventually cancelled.

“Eventually all [flights] were cancelled and this caused angry scenes at a flight to Naples which involved a police presence and very confused and untrained staff.”

The Energy Networks Association said about 75,000 homes were still without power across the UK and engineers were working through the night to get provision running for Christmas Day.

Power supplier Southern Electric said some 19,500 of its customers, most of them in South Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex, could remain without power overnight.

Engineers will restart work on Christmas Day, a spokesperson for the company said.

UK Power Networks, which supplies power to people in the south of England, said there were more than 32,000 without power in the South East and the east of England.

Meanwhile, about 800 homes in the north of Scotland are still without power, mainly around the Deeside area, Buchan, Elgin, Wick and the Western Isles.

Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution said about 400 of its staff are working to reconnect the properties this evening.

Winds gusting up to 80 mph caused disruption to Christmas travel in Scotland, with the Northern and Western Isles hit by ferry and flight cancellations.

There has been heavy rain in Northern Ireland, while winds in Wales have reached 78mph in Pembrey and 77mph in Aberdaron.

 More than 10 flood warnings remain in place across mainland Scotland, with high tide being accompanied by heavy rainfall, but the number is beginning to fall.

The Environment Agency has about 120 flood warnings in place for England and Wales – signifying that flooding is “expected”, and more than 200 flood alerts, where flooding is “possible”.

BBC Radio Cumbria are reporting that more than 1,000 homes are without electricity in the county. Electricity North West says there is a problem with overhead lines, probably caused by strong winds.

Winds are expected to ease today, before heavy rain and gales pick up again on Friday.

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