Floods in Britain prompt emergency government talks

Soldiers helping set up flood defences in Appleby, United Kingdom on Dec 25, 2015.
Soldiers helping set up flood defences in Appleby, United Kingdom on Dec 25, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

LONDON (AFP) - Britain’s government held emergency talks on Sunday (Dec 27) as what it called “unprecedented” flooding in northern England forced hundreds of people to leave their homes, including in the historic tourist destination of York. 

Prime Minister David Cameron said he hosted a conference call of the COBRA emergency committee on the floods which caused chaos for families during the Christmas holiday season. 

Over 250 flood warnings and alerts are in place around the country, with 24 of them severe, signalling a risk to life. The army has been deployed to help tackle the floods in some areas. 

More rain is expected in the area Sunday although the downpours are not expected to be as severe as on Saturday. 

“More troops are being deployed as part of a plan to do whatever is needed,” Mr Cameron wrote on Twitter after the COBRA call on what he called “unprecedented” flooding. 

Police have advised up to 400 people to evacuate their homes and move possessions to the upper floors of their homes near rivers in York. 

Hundreds of people have also been evacuated from other parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire and the army has been drafted in to help with the flood response. 

Parts of Leeds and Greater Manchester are among those affected which have been affected by the flooding. 

Over 7,000 homes in Greater Manchester and Lancashire were also without electricity due to flood damage. 

With its cobbled streets and timbered buildings, York is one of Britain’s top tourist attractions.  It has a rich history dating back to Roman times and is home to one of Europe’s finest cathedrals, which is about 800 years old. 

Lisa Pallister, 36, decided to leave her home in York with her family as flood waters rose.  “We didn’t think it would reach us because we’re raised off the ground and have three storeys but, by this morning, it was on the steps and it is going to rise by lunchtime. So we had a boat ride out,” she said.