Environment Agency says “difficult to stop flooding completely”

Environment Agency says “difficult to stop flooding completely” when rainfall levels are high

The Environment Agency has defended its flood response over the past two days, saying “it’s difficult to stop flooding completely” when rainfall is high as reported by the BBC. Up to 500 properties flooded in Lancashire and West Yorkshire after a month’s worth of rain fell in 24 hours.

Agency spokesman Alex Ross said there had been “very, very high levels of rainfall falling in a very short period of time” in Lancashire and Yorkshire and that some rivers had reached their highest levels on record.

“We can try and predict where the rain will fall, we can try and give early alerts and warnings and we can try and build flood defences to give a reasonable level of protection but it is very difficult to stop flooding completely.”

Five flood warnings remain in place for parts of northern England, and there is one flood alert in the South West.

Flooding and heavy rain is still affecting some areas:

A clean-up is under way after heavy rain on Friday and Saturday forced many people out of their homes.

Some homes in the Lancashire areas of Croston and Darwen were evacuated after nearby rivers burst their banks.

The Environment Agency said it had worked alongside emergency services through Friday night to clear debris, monitor river levels and operate flood defences.

Over the last two days round about 11,000 properties have been protected by flood defences – they’re properties that would have probably flooded otherwise” says Alex Ross of the Environment Agency
But some residents have criticised the authorities’ planning and response, and Labour has alleged government cuts to flood defence spending affected delivery.

Asked on the BBC News Channel about complaints the agency had been slow to respond to the crisis, Mr Ross denied that was the case.

“There were lots of flood warnings put out on Thursday and Friday through the evening across media and social media, and of course we had people out on the ground,” he said.

Mr Ross said there had been “very, very high levels of rainfall falling in a very short period of time” in Lancashire and Yorkshire and that some rivers had reached their highest levels on record.

“It’s important to remember that actually over the last two days round about 11,000 properties have been protected by flood defences – they’re properties that would have probably flooded otherwise, based on the rain that we’ve seen,” he said.

“We can try and predict where the rain will fall, we can try and give early alerts and warnings and we can try and build flood defences to give a reasonable level of protection but it is very difficult to stop flooding completely.”

The agency has warned people to stay away from fast-flowing, swollen rivers, and not to drive through flood water.

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