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Flood forum events in Kendal and Ambleside

Storm Desmond flooding in Kendal Credit: ITV Border

People affected by flooding in Kendal and Ambleside are being invited to attend Flood Forum events next week to share their experiences.

The events are organised by Cumbria County Council, working alongside the Environment Agency, and are the first stage in the formal process of establishing how and why properties and businesses flooded and what could potentially be done to prevent flooding, or mitigate its impact, in future.

Attendees will be asked exactly what happened in terms of where the water came from, how it entered the property, its depth and other details. Alongside data already held, this property level information will help to build a highly detailed picture of what happened and why.

The information is collated and used to develop a report and recommendations for future action that could minimise the risk or impact of future flooding. Local communities are fully consulted on the contents of these reports, and the recommendations, prior to final publication. Once agreed the reports can be used by communities and agencies as the basis for applications for funding to allow schemes to be implemented. Working with the Environment Agency we aim to share draft reports with local communities for comment by early summer.

The details for the events are:

• Kendal, Town Hall, 14 March, 2.30pm - 8.00pm

• Ambleside, Kelsick Hall, 16 March, 2.00pm – 6.00pm

As well as providing information, attendees will also be able to find out more from a range of organisations, who will be providing advice and guidance on funding, insurance, flood prevention equipment and flood support registration.

“The key to improving our flood resilience in the future is to learn from the events of this winter and tap into local knowledge. We’ve visited around 100 communities already and this next round of flood forums will give local people an opportunity to shape the future of flood risk management in Cumbria.”

– Kath Evans, Environment Agency Flood Risk Manager

Flood recovery fund increases target to £7million

Flooding in Carlisle after Storm Desmond Credit: ITV Border

The group raising money for Cumbria's flood victims has increased its fundraising target to £7million.

Cumbria Community Foundation's Flood Recovery Appeal has already raised £5.7million, but says the cost of December's floods to the county is rising.

The appeal has so far supported more than 2,000 households – 35% of all those affected - with 30-35 grants being awarded per day. An average of £188,000 is being awarded per week with most people receiving money within 48 hours of their applications being considered.

The charity is expecting to see more households applying as families return to their homes - many are still in temporary accommodation.

“The Flood Recovery Appeal has so far responded to the immediate crisis phase of the flooding. We know, however, that recovery takes a long time. Our experience of managing flood funds in 2005 and 2009 tells us that we will need to continue to support some families for 12-18 months after the floods.

“We need to be able to help re-build valuable community facilities and to support the work that charities have done to support people affected by the floods.

“If the appeal continues to spend at the current rate it would be spent up by July 2016. Our trustees are monitoring expenditure to ensure those in greatest need are prioritised.

“We encourage anyone facing financial hardship as a result of the flooding to seek help through the Appeal if they have not done so already.”

– Andy Beeforth, Cumbria Community Foundation chief executive


Rod Steward to donate £10,000 to Cumbria's flood recovery

Rod Stewart has promised ten thousand pounds towards Cumbria's flood relief efforts.

The singer, who will play at Carlisle United's Brunton Park ground in June, contacted the club to make the offer.

Stewart is set to play a concert at Carlisle's Brunton Park in June Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Brunton Park was left underwater after Storm Desmond in December. The playing surface has been replaced at a cost of around £150,000.

Brunton Park in December

It is hoped more details of how the donation will be spent will be released next week.

Ouse Bridge at Bassenthwaite reopens after December floods

Ouse Bridge at the end of Bassenthwaite Lake has been reopened. The bridge was closed following last month's floods. Cumbria County Council announced the news on Twitter.

Environment Agency boss quits after Barbados Holiday row

Sir Philip Dilley has quit as Environment Agency chairman Credit: Press Association

Environment Agency chairman Sir Philip Dilley has quit after coming under fire for not returning from a family holiday in Barbados during the recent floods.

He said the decision to resign was because "expectations of the role have expanded to require the chairman to be available at short notice throughout the year", something he felt was "inappropriate".

He insisted he was "well qualified" to carry out the role but media scrutiny on him was "diverting attention" from efforts to help those affected by flooding.

In his resignation statement he said: "I want to be clear that I have not made any untrue or misleading statements, apart from approving the statement about my location over Christmas that in hindsight could have been clearer."

Responding to the resignation, Liberal Democrats Leader and Cumbrian MP Tim Farron said Mr Dilley should have joined his staff and been working over the Christmas break.

“Many staff gave up their Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Their boss should have joined them. It seemed to many that this organisation was bereft of its formal leadership when it was most needed.

“The public deserved better.”

– Tim Farron MP


Cumbrian mother and daughter's possessions destroyed in floods replaced by generous donors

A Cumbrian mother and daughter have spent the last few weeks living apart after their ground floor flat in Cockermouth was ruined by floodwater.

Rachael Davis is a full time carer for 16-year-old Saskia, who has complex medical needs. However a new home has now been found for the two of them, and they are receiving help from generous business owners to furnish it. Watch Kate Walby's report here:

Kendal bridge shut by flood damage

Credit: Press Association

Kendal's Victoria Bridge has been closed to west-bound traffic after divers discovered underwater flood damage to the structure.

Cumbria County Council say the damage has occurred since the flood of 5/6th December when Victoria Bridge was closed, inspected and re-opened and has been caused by continuous fast flowing water hitting the bridge since its last inspection.

"It is recognised that this bridge is of major importance to Kendal. Cumbria County Council is working with consulting engineers to agree the priority for repairs for bridges across Cumbria.

"Options for temporary and permanent repairs will be considered before any indication of timescales for the works can be announced."

– Cumbria County Council spokesman

While the bridge is partially shut the A6 is being closed to west-bound traffic at Longpool roundabout with a diversion along Wildman Street and over Stramongate Bridge.

Traffic requiring access to Beezon Road Industrial Estate will be able to use Wildman Street and Beezon Road. Victoria Bridge will remain open to east-bound traffic, albeit travelling on the opposite side of the road.

NW Ambulance : A letter to Cumbria

The North West Ambulance Service has written to the people of Cumbria thanking them for their compassion shown during the recent floods.

"Dear Cumbrians,

You don’t need us to tell you it has been a challenging time for a large number of you.

During what is normally a time of joy and celebration, you have been picking up the pieces after the devastating floods which have hit the county.

Being on the frontline, we have seen first hand your remarkable resilience and determination and the kindness and generosity you have shown to our staff – many of whom have also been affected personally by the events.

The operational area of the North West Ambulance Service covers the five counties of Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and of course Cumbria. We have been stuck by the collective empathy and admiration from the public across our region for the people of Cumbria, your resilience, determination and “we will not be beaten” attitude is a source of great inspiration to all. We thought we needed to tell you that.

We have witnessed in the media the tears and despair but also the strength and resolve to get back on your feet and restore your homes and businesses as quickly as possible. For this we admire you and would like you to know that as part of your community, we will be there for you.

Community First Responders (CFRs) play a vital role in our Service and are volunteers who attend emergencies to assist patients while the ambulance is on its way. Cumbria has the largest number of volunteers in the North West and on the nights of the floods, we were overwhelmed with offers from them to log on and respond to patients that were temporarily out of reach for us. We heard of our own staff, Cumbrian residents themselves, who waded through water to reach ambulances so they could maintain an emergency service. There is no doubt that lives were saved because of their actions.

We have also been greatly assisted by Mountain Rescue teams from throughout the North West but special thanks must go to Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue team, who allowed the Trust to take residence in their base after our own station was flooded. Also made up of volunteers, these teams worked round the clock alongside ourselves, Police and the Fire Service to reach patients and assist our staff. Our staff have informed us of your generosity in terms of much welcomed refreshments – a hot drink on a cold wet night is the perfect tonic and those simple acts of kindness went a long way to making a difficult night more bearable. Our thanks also to the Sunny Hill pub in Whitehaven, which is opening specially on Christmas day just to provide our staff with a festive meal.

NWAS’ social media sites have received many messages of support from grateful residents and we’re very humbled by the support. We encouraged our staff to have a look for themselves and see the comments – many of which were sent at the height of the floods.

We know you still have a lot to overcome. We are continuously monitoring weather forecasts and plan where and when we believe we will need ambulance resources the most. As we know, however, the weather is a law unto itself and even with the best planning, the unexpected can happen.

Despite the situation you find yourselves in currently, all of us at NWAS hope you manage to enjoy Christmas and spend time with your families and friends. We wish you good health, happiness and success in the New Year."

– The Board, Managers and Staff of North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Cumbria Flood Appeal hits £1m... now the target is £3m

The Cumbria 2015 Flood Appeal website Credit: JustGiving

An appeal launched to raise funds to support the individuals and communities devastated by Storm Desmond in Cumbria has already raised over £1m.

The fundraising has been started by the Cumbria Community Foundation, which frequently raises money for local causes.

The purported aim of the fund-raising was to reach £1m, but now the target has been increased in increments as donations come in.

The new target is £3m.

You can donate here.

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