Huge clean-up begins after record storms batter Britain

Flats left close to collapse after floods in Newburn, Newcastle Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Hundreds of homeowners are facing a massive clean-up today after record storms battered Britain.

Across the North, householders have been reclaiming their homes, which insures estimate will cost an average of about £20,000 per household.

Daybreak's Katy Fawcett reports from York.

Residents assess damage after record floods

Residents of a block of townhouses in Newburn, Newcastle, were among those who faced a second night out of their homes after floodwater gouged out the ground beneath the building, which remains cordoned off amid safety concerns.

Some areas have seen more than double the average rainfall for the month since Sunday, and although the worst of the rain has now passed, river levels in some places were still rising as the water comes down through the system.

Workmen asses damage in Newburn following the floods Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

The town of Morpeth, Northumberland was one of the towns that had secured funding for defences through a partnership programme, the Environment Agency had said.

The council had allocated £12m and the Northumbria Regional Flood and Coastal Committee £10.6m for flood defences, plans which had been given the go-ahead to start early next year.

Morpeth residents are now facing a massive clean-up for the second time in four years after a month's rain fell in 24 hours.

An aerial view showing flood water from the River Ouse in York Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Experts warned of inadequate flood defences

The flooding of many parts of the UK comes just two months after the Government's advisers on climate change issued a warning about inadequate defences.

The Committee on Climate Change reported in July that more than half a million homes and businesses will be at "significant" risk of flooding without more investment.

Flood water in York as the River Ouse continues to rise Credit: John Giles/PA Wire

The Environment Agency has warned that it needs a year-on-year increase of £20 million for flood defences on top of inflation to maintain the current level of protection.

But flood defence spending is 12% below what it was in the last spending review period, with a gap opening up of £860 million between what has been pledged for 2011-2015 and what is needed to keep the same number of properties protected.

Two people brave the floods in York Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

In May last year the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) changed the way funding is allocated to flood projects.

The partnership programme means instead of meeting the full costs of a limited number of schemes, Government money is potentially available towards any worthwhile scheme, based on the numbers of households protected, the damage prevented and any other benefits.

Two actors from a tourist attraction in York

The system means third-party investment from local authorities or businesses is required to meet the full cost of projects.

The Environment Agency said flood defences across the country had protected over 18,500 properties, including 1,500 in Carlisle, Cumbria, 830 in Preston and 660 in Bishop Auckland, County Durham.

Elevated walkways carry pedestrians above floodwater in York Credit: John Giles/PA Wire

The report by the Committee on Climate Change claimed that a funding gap of almost £1 billion is opening up between what is needed to keep properties protected in the face of climate change and what is being spent over the next few years.

Around 610,000 properties will be at significant risk of flooding by 2035 without action, four times more than if there was increased investment in flood defences and more careful planning of new housing in the flood plain, the committee said.

A woman gets a piggy back ride through flooded water Credit: John Giles/PA Wire

Councils have called on the Government to set up an emergency fund to help pay for millions of pounds of repairs to roads damaged by the persistent rain and flooding.

The Local Government Association warned repairs would be needed to bridges, roads and pavements and the urgent nature of the repairs could leave stretched town hall budgets in disarray.

It said funds might have to be diverted from elsewhere to plug the gap, causing cuts to services or planned infrastructure projects that aim to boost growth being put on the back-burner.

The LGA is urging the Government to set up an Emergency Capital Highways Maintenance Fund, as it did in 2007

Natalie Stroughair sandbags a taxi office in York Credit: John Giles/PA Wire

Meanwhile a schoolboy is in battling for his life after being struck by lightning, emergency services said.

The 11-year-old, who is believed to be a pupil at the Dorcan Academy in Swindon, was injured yesterday.

The boy received medical attention from staff at the school and Great Western Ambulance Service after going into cardiac arrest.

Watching the floodwater rise in York Credit: John Giles/PA Wire